Willemstad consists of four quarters - Punda, Otrobanda, Scharloo and Pietermaai – and is best known for its many monuments and historical buildings. Otrobanda houses two thirds of the over 800 monuments in Willemstad. Discover this part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site by walking around at your own pace. Once a unique breeding ground for artists, Otrobanda still possesses the power to inspire. Whether you are looking for affordable shopping, high-end dining, culture or some relaxation, Otrobanda’s winding streets and its colorful residents are sure to tick off all your boxes.
Otrobanda means “the other side” in Papiamentu, the native language spoken on Curaçao. In 1707, when Punda (the oldest district of Willemstad) was bursting at the seams, a few dockworkers crossed to the other side of the harbor entrance Saint Anna Bay in search of more space. More people followed suit and Otrobanda was built without any formal planification. This organized chaos was exactly what made people from all walks of life feel right at home. It still does today.
In the 19th century, Otrobanda was an important cultural and commercial center on the island with close ties to countries in the region, such as Venezuela and Colombia. The famous liberator of South America, Simon Bolivar and one of his generals Pedro Luis Brion both lived in Otrobanda. The island’s main square west of the harbor entrance is named after Brion. O trobanda can justly be called the cradle of Curaçao culture and played a decisive role in the economic, educational and social-cultural development of the island. It is in Otrobanda that elements of Dutch, Portuguese, Spanish, English, French and African cultures intermingled freely and influenced each other and thus Curaçao's culture was born: a synthesis of all these cultures. Most of our well-known and successful composers, musicians, writers, poets, craftsmen, sportsmen, small businessmen, political, and religious leaders were born, raised and worked in this colorful part of town. Otrobanda has been compared on numerous occasions by writers in international travel magazines with well-known world tourist destinations; i.e. Old San Juan in Puerto Rico, Quartier Latin in Paris, Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia and New Orleans.