Curacao, a former colony of and now a country within the Netherlands, is a small island lying in the southern Caribbean just off the coast of Venezuela. Although everyone I encountered spoke Spanish or English, or both, the official languages are Dutch and Papiamentu, a creole of African languages with Spanish or Portuguese, plus Dutch and others.
The Dutch occupied the island in the mid-seventeenth century, the Spanish having found it of no value other than a source of native population to relocate and enslave. The Dutch West Indian Company however saw the value of a natural harbour and founded Willemstad at its entrance. The port became a centre of the slave trade and the resulting affluence led to the historic urban fabric that UNESCO list.
The buildings are in a kind of crossover Dutch cum Spanish Caribbean style with decorative gables, bright colours, dorrmer-windowed pantiled roofs, often with a steeper central section and shallower outshoots towards the eaves.
Many in the centre are in such good condition that it is hard to know if they are original or not. However, not far away there are decaying or derelict buildings that display the same characteristics.
The two sides of the town are linked across the harbour entrance by a floating bridge, supplemented by free ferries for when it has been hinged sideways to let a ship through. Road traffic has to go the long way round on a high modern bridge further inland. This is a cruise ship stop (which could explain why there are so many casinos in town perhaps) and they can be seen towering over the houses outside the harbour.
The town contains the ‘oldest surviving synagogue building in the western hemisphere’ (which I presume rules out Israel), first built at the end of the seventeenth century and rebuilt forty years later.
Unfortunately I cannot build one of the wonderful gabled buildings with my small Lego kit so I went for a house based on this and other similar but smaller houses around town:
My model is shorter, mostly to retain the right overall proportions of the building.