Photo by Dennis MacDonald / age fotostock
The Otrobanda District
Stroll through Otrobanda for more than five minutes and you'll immediately understand why locals call it the cultural heart of Willemstad. Located across the bay from Punda—Otrobanda literally means "other side"—the district is a fascinating mishmash of restored colonial buildings and run-down alleys covered in fading murals. Along the Breedestraat, the neighborhood's main shopping road, you can find rows of Chinese and Indian stores, bars, lotto shacks, bakeries, and hole-in-the-wall restaurants. The best way to explore this area's complex past is to join Shirley of Dushi Walks on a two-hour trek to her favorite sites—complete with history, art, and stories from the residents you’ll meet along the way.
By Lebawit Lily Girma, AFAR Local Expert
The best walking tour in Willemstad, Curacao
Located across the water from the popular Punda district of Willemstad is the Otrobanda. Once this was a rough part of town and many of the historic buildings had long since collapsed in ruin. In recent decades though the community has made an effort to restore this important and historic part of town and the best way to see it is on a walking tour led by architect-by-day-tour-guide-by-night Anko van der Woude. The tours are a result of his obsession and meticulous research into the history of his beloved island and by the end of the walk you’ll find yourself just as captivated by the history and architecture of this neglected district as Anko is.
By Matt Long
Otrobanda, Willemstad, Curaçao