When you step off the ship in Curaçao and head out on foot to the capital city Willemstad, one of the first places you’ll encounter on the “C” of the ABC Islands is Rif Fort, which is part of the Renaissance Mall. That might sound dull, but it’s rather neat to see this modernization of a 19th century fort constructed to curb attacks by pirates.
Alas, our favorite stop at Rif Fort no longer exists. It was a little restaurant that served an incredible Toblerone mousse that came in three mounds — dark, milk, and white chocolate. But now it’s gone. There are plenty of remaining dining venues here, but we did not partake since our cherished Toblerone mousse was no more.
Inside Rif Fort you’ll find lots of other shops ranging from touristy to pricey. It’s just a fun place to explore, but especially at the end of the day when you’ve tired yourself out touring Willemstad.
So Ursula and I rushed through Rif Fort to set foot across Sint (Saint) Anna Bay on the marvelous Queen Emma Bridge, a pedestrian pontoon bridge that is hinged to swing open from the east side of the bay.
Once you’re on the Queen Emma Bridge, glance back for a nice view of Rif Fort:
Rif Fort looks quaint compared to its counterpart on the east side of Sint Anna Bay. The picture you see below is a portion of the much larger Fort Amsterdam built in 1634 by the Dutch West India Company. This massive fort served as headquarters for the company. Today it is the seat of both the government and governor.
But we’re about to exit the bridge and head into Willemstad proper. Here’s a sampling of what to expect from this World Heritage site both this week and next:
I‘m glad we were let off south of the cruise port, as it afforded us some sightseeing we’d missed during our earlier morning foot tour. That building above may appear rather pedestrian until you notice the cannon to the left. It is the south view of Fort Oranje (Fort Orange), which was built by the Dutch West India Company in 1639. Although I’m pretty sure the air conditioning came a bit later, as did the fresnal lens perched atop the structure to the left. Speaking of which:
That structure is a stone lighthouse. In 1932 it replaced the previous wooden lighthouse that served the area beginning in 1868.The four cannon you see are English, and they were made between 1808 and 1812. But there’s something even more impressive right around that corner you see above:
The Bestuurskantoor (government office) on Fort Oranje was built in 1837. It historically was home to the Dutch island’s governor. After it was restored in 1972 it became the offices of the central government of Bonaire.
Time now for some water imagery of Bonaire, which I will present as a photo gallery/slide show. Just click on any of the images below to enlarge and start the slide show: