Celebrating 25 Years of #Willemstad on the #UNESCO World Heritage List!
This year marks the 25th anniversary of historic Willemstad’s listing on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
CINEX visited Marcel Dennert at Stichting Monumentenzorg Curaçao and asked a couple of questions about this milestone. Monumentenzorg has over 120 monuments under its management and is located in the monument called Petit Trianon at Scharloo, which was built in 1873.
What does this mean for Curaçao?
It actually means quite a lot. From a cultural-historical view, it is basically a city of approximately 700 monuments. A living display of our history where the majority of all monuments are within the four neighborhoods of Willemstad; Punda, Otrobanda, Pietermaai, and Scharloo. Each of these neighborhoods has its own unique characteristics in monumental buildings and historic events that took place in the rich history of Curaçao.
I believe that the UNESCO listing highly contributes to our economy as a unique product for tourism. Nowadays you see visitors with their cameras recognizing the monumental status and architecture of Willemstad, Curaçao. The 25th year mark means the efforts of maintaining and preserving our Willemstad as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The created awareness has led to a true appreciation of the value of our inner city. All our ancestors created these buildings, worked here and lived here, and eventually raised their families in historic Willemstad.
What makes a building a monument?
For a building or an object to become a protected monument, it must be designated as such by the Government after being proposed by the Monumentenbureau. The building or object will have to be considered to have a unique architectural positioning in its surroundings combined with a particular value of that object for Curaçao. In general, a monument has to be over 50 years old. Most recently several buildings from the 1930s and 1950s like the “patio woningen” have become protected monuments. Architects argue that the list should become even larger since even today we are building the monuments of the future.
How has the area of Willemstad developed over the past 25 years, especially the monuments?
At the beginning of the 1990s, there was an immense effort made to restore the monumental buildings of Curaçao. Together with the introduction of Monumentenfonds and N.V Stadsherstel this highly contributed to the protection of our monuments. People started showing interest and making an effort to restore and breathe new life in these historic buildings. Ever since there has been constant restoration in all four districts of Willemstad until today. People started discovering certain areas like Pietermaai and more recently also Ser’i Otrobanda as great areas to live and invest in.
You can see recently in the efforts in Punda and other areas of Willemstad that there are many more private investors. This is an exceptionally good thing since private inventors are coming up with new business ideas, new use cases for the buildings, and an increased desire to live in Willemstad.
What is your vision for the next few years for the monuments?
I expect to see more private investments and businesses starting up with the increased demand for these four trendy neighborhoods. Ser’i Otrobanda is already a good example with Kura Hulanda and Hotel Otrobanda all being developed by local private investors. Scharloo also has seen recent private investments that are looking promising for the area. Punda is about reviving the city and creating more residential options in the inner city. This allows more people to return and live in our inner city. There are still quite a lot of monuments to restore in the Rif area, Otrobanda, Scharloo, and Fleur De Marie. People should realize that there are many opportunities for business to be done in Willemstad.
How can local and international investors invest more in the area, especially the monuments?
They could contact us at Stichting Monumentenzorg Curaçao to get information regarding the possibilities. We can offer guidance in the process, design, and requirements of restoring a monumental building correctly. In most recent years, there have been many fiscal incentives introduced for investors. For example, you have no transfer tax of 4% (overdrachtsbelasting), early depreciation (vervroegde afschrijving) and different financing and subsidy options for example with the Stichting Monumentenfonds Curaçao.
Click here to know more about our local monuments.