Queen Emma Bridge, Curaçao
The pontoon bridge was built in 1888 and connects Punda and Otrobanda. It swings open to let ships pass the canal in and out of the harbour.
If the bridge is open, free ferries shuttle between the two parts of town.
The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge connects the two parts of town, Punda and Otrobanda. It swings wide many times daily to allow access to one of the busiest ports in the world. It also separates the two halves of the city. This bridge, known as the swinging old lady, was built in 1888 by Leonard Burlington Smith and named after Queen Emma who reigned in Holland from 1890 to 1898.
The bridge consists of bridgework supported by 16 floating pontoons. This explains why the Queen Emma Bridge is also known as the Pontoon Bridge. It opens and closes by two powerful ship motors, a process which takes about two minutes.
This 107-year-old bridge originally was designed to cost the poor nothing to cross it while the well-to-do paid to cross. Legend has it that it cost walkers one cent to cross the bridge with shoes on, but it was free to cross it barefoot. The rationale being that the poor couldn't afford shoes. These days, the crossing is free, regardless of foot coverings.
The pontoon bridge is definitely one of the sites to go see and experience. When you’re in town take a few minutes to walk across the bridge and enjoy the breeze and the scenery and the hustle and bustle of the town. I think that you will find that the time will fly by and you won't regret taking that unique walk.
The Queen Juliana Highway Bridge was named after Queen Juliana who was queen in Holland from 1948 to 1980. This bridge is one of the highest bridges in the world. It is 185 feet (56 m) above the sea level of St. Anna Bay, weighs 3,400 tons and has 4 traffic lanes. It took almost a decade to build this bridge that was officially opened in 1974.
Although I never traveled on the Queen Juliana Bridge, I was told that a person will always be delighted with the breathtaking view. Depending from which side you come from, you can see the entire panorama of Punda, Otrobanda and the Schottegat. I believe that on the Otrobanda side you can pull over to make photos or videos of the harbor and historic districts.
Punda's Breedestraat is a main shopping thoroughfare, likely to be crowded with tourists and cruise ship passengers most any time of the day. The road is partially blocked off for pedestrian traffic.
The shopping is not duty-free, but is "duty-relaxed", meaning the shopkeepers pay low duty. And since there is no sales tax on Curacao, you should be able to get some fairly good deals. You'll also find an array of shops on the Punda side, particularly at the Waterfort Arches on the harbor front. Many town shops also have branches in hotels around the island.
On Breedestraat, try Boolchand's for cameras and electronic equipment, Little Holland for fine cigars, Eccolet for designer shoes for men and women, and Little Switzerland for watches, china, leather goods, and jewelry. One of the more intriguing stores is J.L. Penha and Sons, in a large, circa 1700 building. This store is a large department store, with jewelry, per-fumes, electronic equipment, and more.
Also for local crafts, try the Public Market in Punda, near the Wilhelmina bridge. Remember that the Public Market closes at 2 p.m.
On Trompstraat in Punda, is one of the town's better art galleries. You'll find contemporary work from Curacao and from around the world, including oils, sculpture, and photography.
Wander - take in the atmosphere. The "city" of Willemstad is beautiful, but there's not much to DO. Enjoy the relaxed atmosphere. Walk over the floating bridge. Watch it open to let boats come into the harbor. Try to time it so you can see a cruise ship come in - it doesn't seem like a cruise ship can FIT - but they do! Enjoy the cafes, the many languages, the people.
There's not a lot of excitement on the Island, but there's a lot of excitement in the water. If you love scuba diving or snorkelling, this is a fantastic place for you.
The Queen Emma Pontoon Bridge (which locals refer to as 'the Swinging Lady') is the world's largest floating pedestrian bridge. Built in 1888 by an American consul, a toll was charged to help recoup the costs. However, the consul decided to charge only those who could afford shoes. The idea was that people who could afford shoes were rich and people who couldn't afford shoes were poor. His good intentions backfired when he realized that the poor folks were to proud to admit their poverty and often borrowed shoes to cross, and the rich folks, too stingy to pay the toll, were often crossing barefoot. There is no charge today regardless of your footwear. The bridge is 700 ft. long and swings open up to 30 times a day to receive ships into St. Anna Bay.
...try a walk from Otrobanda trough Punda to Scharloo, using our famous bridges!
Willemstad is well known for its three bridges: the old Emma pontoonbridge (built by the U.S. consul L.B. Smith in 1888), still swinging open to let ships pass through. The Juliana bridge (1974), the highest in te region (by the way: Queen Emma was Queen Juliana's grandmother). And the Queen Wilhelminabrug (you guessed right: she's Juliana's mom), dating from 1928, which now has been replaced with a new version. The new bridge enables access to the Waaigat laguna, so it can be developed into a small boats and yacht harbor.
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