A must visit on Curaçao: The Handelskade in Punda and the Pontoonbridge.

If you look at the colorful facades of buildings in Punda, you might think you are in Amsterdam, The Netherlands. The Handelskade is located in the middle of the Caribbean, more precisely in the city center of Curaçao; Punda. Punda, which means “point”, is the oldest part of the capital ‘city’ Willemstad and became a UNESCO site in 1997 due to its historic colorful buildings in the Dutch colonial style. Curaçao’s most popular landmark is visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists of Curaçao every year and it’s impossible that you do not take a picture once in front of this historic landmark.

The curious reason behind the colorful houses in Curaçao

There are many stories on why the houses are all so colorful. It’s believed that a former governor of Curaçao in the early 19th century ordered to paint all the houses in different bright colors because the combination of traditional white painted houses and the glaring sunlight would cause migraines for inhabitants. It is also said this governor was the owner of the only paint factory on the island and made the most profit out of his own regulation. It takes a lot of effort to maintain the Handelskade so colorful. All buildings need to be painted on a yearly base, due to the salty sea air and the unique building structure. Usually, this happens at the end of the year and owners usually choose a different color, this way the city landscape stays unique and surprising. Check for yourself if your – or others – photo matches the Handelskade at this very moment. 

The Swinging Old Lady

Next to the Handelskade there is another popular landmark; the Pontoonbridge, locally known as ‘Pontjesbrug’. It’s named after the former Dutch Queen and is officially called the Queen Emma Bridge. It connects the two different districts Punda and Otrobanda (Otrobanda means ‘other side’ in Papiamentu), also known as the city center. This wooden bridge floats on the Sint Annabay – opens from one side and “swings” itself to the other side. It is uniquely known for its construction worldwide. The bridge, also known as the ‘Swinging Old Lady’ was built in 1888 and has been completely renovated twice; in 1939 and 2006.

The bridge only opens up to let in cargo – and other ships but if you want to crossover when the bridge is open, you can always use one of the (free of charge) ferry’s that are located on both sides. Before the bridge was declared car-free in 1974, the 56,5 meters high Julianabridge was built in order to connect both districts. Both bridges are definitely a must see. If you can, snap a picture of yourself on both bridges, and in the background of each picture is the other bridge, this way you can have an ultimate Curaçao picture, and don’t forget to tag us!

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