Queen Emma Bridge, Curaçao
The Queen Emma Bridge connects the two parts of town, Punda and Otrobanda.
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 boats supported by 16 floating pontoons.
For that reason, the bridge is also known as the Pontoon Bridge. It opens and closes by two powerful ship motors, a process which takes about two minutes. Quite a remarkable sight to see as the bridge swings a full 90 degrees and rests against the harbour side!
When the bridge is open to let ships from the harbour pass, pedestrians are transported free of charge by the ponchi, a small ferry. (See the next tip!)
Actually it was a drawbridge before it was converted to a regular bridge. Now it serves as a remnant of the past.
We walked across the Queen Wilhelmina bridge on our way from the parking lot in Punta to the floating market. and back.
You can get some good pictures of the boats from this location.
It was quite amusing to discover that the bridge was not there when we needed to get to the other side of the Santa Anna Bay.
We had seen the bridge that day while sightseeing in town. That evening we wanted to cross the bay to get to a restaurant on the other side. We walked to where the bridge had been and no bridge. It was then that we discovered that it opens up for ships to pass.
The Queen Emma Bridge rests a top 15 pontoons and is powered by 2 motors attached to the last one. The bridge stretches 551 feet across the bay linking Punda and Otrobanda.
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.
Walking along the Handelskade (street) on the Punda side of Willemstad (pass over the Queen Emma Bridge), you will see the parade of Venezuelan fishing boats tied up along this area. These Venezuelan fishermen sail 30 miles north to Curacao to sell their catch along with vegetables, fruit and other items where they fetch a better price than in Venezuela. Locals arrive throughout the morning and go about their daily ritual of buying fresh seafood and other necessities. It's interesting to observe different cultures and their daily lives and observe the contrasts between theirs and our own.
Although we weren't in the market to buy produce or seafood, the floating market was an interesting and colorful sight and the variety of fish and other seafood was really an eye-opener! The floating market is located close to lots of other shops, but not much was opened at the time we visited except for souvenir shops.
Rent a car and take the Westpunt-route for a day trip. From the resort area go over the Juliana bridge, continue on this road until you got to the main round-about where you turn into Westpunt towards the Airport and stop at the HATO caves. Interesting. $12 for two. There are some Indian drawings on the side of the cliffs and a guided tour through the caves. Make stops at Landhuis Papaya, Landhuis Daniel and Landhuis Ascension. Shortly after the Wind Mills on the north coast, about ½ of a mile, there is a sign to the right that says San Pedro. If you have a 4x4, take that. It’s a great ride. On the Hato Plains. There are tons of 4x4 trails, and you can see wild goats, and Iguanas, get close up to the wind mills, can walk up to the Northern rocks and get splashed. Worth the jaunt.
Continue up the same road west and pass the little slave-house museum. It’s called Kas di Palu Maishi. Continued on to Christoffel Park. You see some impressive vegetation, wild parrots, great Island views. Well worth it. You need a 4x4. From here go to Boca Tabla Cool cave where the sea comes in. Take a peak at the Natural Bridge. Gon onto Westpunt and stop at Jaanchies restaurant. This place is great!! Jaanchi and his son are the hosts, waiters, and cooks. They do everything. Lunch there is a hoot. Birds fly throughout the place, very cozy, and the food is awesome. Try the Wahoo, and shrimp special – comes with potato wedges and veggies, and do try some Iguana, you know the deal, tastes like……..
Stop for a beer at Palya Forti. This place has a great view over the bay with some boats below. Wouldn’t eat here, but it is a nice place for a beer. Go onto Landhuis Knip and check out the two beaches there. You can snorkel here, very clear. These are nice beaches.
This is an interesting area to walk around. If its a hot day think twice about visiting the park because there is absolutely no shade. In some areas there are lots of cactus but mostly there's just a lot of rocks. Bring lots of water because you cannot buy any there. You can spend about 2 hours here walking around (or you can even drive to each sight). There is one main trail that leads you to three areas along the water. The most southern sight is called Boka Pistol. Here is a cool area where the ocean meets the rocks and creates a blowhole where the water shoots up and out. The next sight is called Boka Kalki. Here is another beach stop. People have left pebbles and rocks as messages on the beach. The last sight is Boka Wandomi. This was my favorite. Make sure you climb sown the stairs to the sand. One side of the cliff has man made chairs and seats that are fun. You can also see a natural bridge that reaches out into the ocean. There is also a cave that you can go into. Entrance fee was NAfl 2,65.
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.
The Queen Emma Bridge connects the two parts of town, Punda and Otrobanda. This bridge, known as the swinging old lady, was built in 1888 and named after Queen Emma who reigned in Holland from 1890 to1898. The bridge consists of boats supported by 16 floating pontoons. It opens and closes by two powerful ship motors, a process which takes about two minutes. When the bridge is open to let ships from the harbour pass, pedestrians are transported free of charge by the ponchi, a small ferry.
The architecture was so unique that it is really worth the time to walk around Willemstad. The story we were told about the colors of the buildings is that one of the first European governors on the island ordered that the buildings be painted bright and varied colors because they used to all be white and the sun's glare off the white buildings gave him a headache. The story goes that it was not until he left for New York that people discovered that he had a large financial stake in the company that sold the mandatory paint.
You can take the ferry or walk across the floating bridge if it is in place and your cruise ship is docked on the other side. The floating bridge is moved and you have to take the ferry any time a boat needs to pass.
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.
This store, located across from the Queen Emma Bridge is very hard to miss.
It was constructed in 1707, making it the oldest building in Willemstad.
There are small replicas sold at shops all over town.
Go into Willemstad. Park on the Punda side so you don’t have to deal with going over that Juliana bridge so often. This thing is really high, with only about a 3 ½ foot high guard rail that is only about two feet from where your vehicle drives, and cars are whizzing by. Parking no problem in Punda. Go to The round house market. Lots of locals selling their wares. Trinkets, fruits and veggies, fish. Walk down where the floating market is, really interesting. Evidently these guys make their way from Venezuela every morning before sunrise to sell fish, fruits and vegetables. Hard life! Do a little shopping and have lunch at an outdoor café’! Have an Amstel! Walk over to Otrobanda. They have some more outdoor vendors!
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.
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.