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Think Holland splashed with a palette of pastel colors and you have Willemstad. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue — on the Punda side — is the Western Hemisphere's oldest (1732). Between it and the floating market, where Venezuelan vendors hawk their fresh fruits and vegetables, there are charming shops that sell Dutch classics like Delft pottery, cheese, clogs, embroidered linens plus local art and handicrafts. To get to Otrabanda, the other side of Santa Anna Bay, cross the 120-year-old Queen Emma Bridge. It swings open each time a boat passes. Gabled homes border Otrabanda's narrow winding streets. ...

Think Holland splashed with a palette of pastel colors and you have Willemstad. A UNESCO World Heritage site, Mikvé Israel-Emanuel Synagogue — on the Punda side — is the Western Hemisphere's oldest (1732). Between it and the floating market, where Venezuelan vendors hawk their fresh fruits and vegetables, there are charming shops that sell Dutch classics like Delft pottery, cheese, clogs, embroidered linens plus local art and handicrafts. To get to Otrabanda, the other side of Santa Anna Bay, cross the 120-year-old Queen Emma Bridge. It swings open each time a boat passes. Gabled homes border Otrabanda's narrow winding streets. Kurá Hulanda sits on an 18th century courtyard. The site of a former slave market, its museum chronicles the horrors of the transatlantic slave trade. But this island, located 35 miles from Venezuela and below the hurricane belt, is also surrounded by crystal waters. Visibility varies from 60 to 150 feet. The Curaçao Underwater Marine Park zealously protects reefs and underwater denizens in about one-third of its southern waters, making it a diver's and snorkeler's paradise.

Roberta Sotonoff
About the Expert

Roberta Sotonoff is coauthor of Eyewitness Top 10 Chicago and has contributed to many other guidebooks, including Fodor's Chicago, Fodor's Caribbean, Fodor's Caribbean Ports of Call, and Thomas Cook Traveller's USA.

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Roberta Sotonoff for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: Curacao is an island in the southern part of the Caribbean Sea off the north coast of Venezuela.
  • Language: Dutch, English, Papiamentu
  • Currency: Nethernlands Antillean Gulden
  • Research: Wikipedia | Wikitravel
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
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