Old houses in various styles and shapes
Walking through Willemstad you should really look around very sharply. The houses here have a rather wide variety in them, which surprised me a little. I was under the impression that most of them would date back to the same period in time, but the opposit is through. Willemstad has been changing throughout the centuries continuously.
The old gatehouse at the entrance
The old gatehouse is looking like a simple building at the entrance of Willemstad, but is also one of the oldest buildings in town. On it's side there is a place where some memorial stones show the various extreme flood levels that have endangered the town even more then human enemies ever did (see local customs).
The remainders that this is a military fortress
Everywhere things remind the visitor about the fact that this town is a fortified work of defense. The Arsenal, the walls, canals and bastions, but also smaller things like the canons that are still visbible on many corners of the streets and squares. Willemstad has many of them still there, try to find them.
The "Kruithuis", an explosive place
It was the same Napoleon that took care of the wonderful building created to store the gunpowder: the "Kruithuis". This explosive place doesn't look like a military object at all and is now-a-days the main attraction on the entrance-square of Willemstad.
Details ... always and everywhere, so don't forget
What would life be without details. Little things that make a grand finale even more special. Here in Willemstad there are many as the inhabitants do their best to make the place even more intresting then it already is. Flowers on the balconies or windows, clean streets and funny items behind the windows that you can always look into straight into the livingroom. On the roofs the beautiful windfans attracted me. Especially this one (see picture) was amazing.
The "Princehof" or "Mauritshouse"
In 1623 Maurits (son of Willem of Orange) started building the "Princehof" in Willemstad. He himself was once and a while in the fortress that his father founded and feld quite at home here. Long time the house was also used as cityhall, but in recent years it became the tourist information as well as a small regional museum.
The fortifications of Willemstad
Surrounding the small town Willemstad there is a huge seven-pointed star shape in fortifications. Walls, canals, dikes and bastions have tried many years to scare away a possible enemy, but actually never have been besieged. At some places canons are still standing, but most of them are empty. Still, rims along which the canons were moved are visible, as well as many other signs of militairy activities.
The Koepelkerk (Rounded Church) in the centre
Straight in the heart of the seven pointed star shaped town stands the "Koepelkerk". This church too was built in order of Maurits. It is a protestant, even reformed, church, which is clearly visible as for the modesty that the architect has held up while constructing the building. No enormous church with a huge tower, but also no cross-shape, choir or any fine sculpture-work surrounding it. Simply a house of prayer, without any distractive items.
The Arsenal, where the weapons were stored
Ordered by Napoleon Bonaparte, the Arsenal is the large square-shaped building at your right as soon as you pass the gates entering Willemstad. Here the small detachement of French (later again Dutch) soldiers were keeping the stores of weapons.
Visit the Mauritshuis
This former hunting lodge of Maurits of Orange is now a museum. It was built in 1623 in a fine dutch renaissance style.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
- Castles and Palaces
Every Dutch town needs a windmill
Every Dutch town needs a windmill, so Willemstad as well has one. It towers high above the marina and is visible from almost all places on the surrounding walls and fortifications of the town.