The country houses on Curaçao are the legacy of the colonial masters of past centuries. Today, the historic buildings are used in a variety of ways and some of them can be visited.
When the Dutch placed the island of Curaçao under their rule in 1634, several country houses were gradually built, starting from the port of Schottegat in the capital Willemstad, to ensure the island's self-sufficient supply of food. Some of these mansions are still well preserved today and many of them can be visited. Their Dutch architecture in the middle of the Caribbean is one of our top 10 sights of Curaçao.
The pretty country houses on Curaçao are all designed in a similar way, and yet no two are alike. On a tour of Curaçao, starting from Willemstad and heading southeast and then back to the northwest, one passes a large number of the generously proportioned and mostly colorful mansions.
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PICTURES: Country houses on Curaçao
Cottages on the Schottegat
East of the Schottegat, the impressive harbor of Willemstad, four country houses can be found along the Schottegatweg. In the far north is the Rooi Catootje, where independence from the Netherlands was decided in 1950 in the "Round Table Conference." Still visible today on the north side of the house is the slave bell that once called the slaves to roll call. The house's library can be visited by appointment.
The next two country houses are Groot Davelaar and Zeelandia, both of which now contain restaurants where you can dine with dignity in a historic setting. "De Taveerne" in the neat red and white decorated Groot Davelaar is even one of the most famous restaurants in the city. The southernmost and probably best-known country house on the Schottegatweg is the Chobolobo country house, where the world-famous curaçao liqueur has been produced for over 100 years.
Curaçao Distillery at Chobolobo Country House
The liqueur "Blue Curaçao", for which the Caribbean island of Curaçao is known worldwide, is still produced according to old tradition at the Chobolobo country house. A walk through the production hall reveals the history of the liqueur from its invention in the 19th century until today. The Curaçao Distillery is one of our top 10 Curaçao attractions.
Chobolobo, like numerous other country houses on Curaçao, was built in the late 18th century on a plantation of about 10 hectares. All that is known of the early history of the country house is that it was named "Sebollobo" in 1796 by its then owner Metthew, and in the early 20th century it belonged to the Jesurun family of shipbuilders. In 1946, the country house passed to the Senior family, who developed it into a liqueur distillery.
Visit to the Curaçao distillery
The Chobolobo country house is located in the Salina district east of the huge Schottegat harbor and can be visited completely free of charge. At the entrance to the production hall of the Curaçao liqueur, information is available in various languages to guide you through the display boards.
In addition to the history and production of Curaçao liqueur, the visitor also learns interesting facts about the history of the Senior family and the Jews on Curaçao (by the way, Curaçao liqueur is certified kosher).
Knew? The world-famous Blue Curaçao is only blue because it is colored. The "pure" Curaçao liqueur is completely colorless and is also available in red, green, black and golden variants.
At the end of the production hall, the Senior family's refreshment lotion can be tried out as well as three different varieties of Curaçao liqueur can be tasted. Afterwards, visitors are directed to the extensive store where liqueurs and other regional delicacies, as well as numerous souvenirs of Curaçao, can be taken home as souvenirs.
History of Curaçao liqueur
As early as 1499, only a few months after the discovery of Curaçao, the Spaniards began to cultivate Valencia orange trees. However, the climate was too hot and dry for the fruit trees and the soil too poor, their fruits remained small and sour, and the plantations went wild over time.
According to legend, the Curaçao liqueur was "discovered" by a member of the senior family. This Jewish family, close to the Spanish royal family, had fled from Spain to Amsterdam to escape the Inquisition, and some descendants eventually emigrated to Curaçao. Edgar Senior noticed the delicious aroma that emanated from the peels of Valencia oranges after stepping on them and decided to experiment with it.
Many experiments with various ingredients and spices later, the Senior family had developed their "Genuine Curaçao Liqueur". This became so successful that in 1896 the company Senior & Co was founded. The copper still that was used then is still in use today. Since 1948, Senior & Co has been producing not only its tasty liqueur, but also a refreshing lotion whose aroma of orange and menthol is touted as "air conditioning in a bottle".
PICTURES: Curaçao Distillery at Chobolobo Country House, Willemstad
Country houses in the southeast of Curaçao
Southeast of Willemstad are the country houses Jan Thiel, Santa Barbara, and Klein and Groot Sint Joris. The country houses on Spanse Water, the poshest area of Curaçao, are not open to tourists. The two country houses at Sint Joris Baai, once notorious for their slave trade, are also privately owned and cannot be visited.
Country house Ronde Klip
The first country house in the east of Willemstad, which is also open to visitors, is the Ronde Klip country house. With its massive staircase, it has already served as a movie set. Originally completed in 1904, it was renovated a few years ago and now shines in its former glory.
Country house Brievengat
Just 4km west of Ronde Klip is the Brievengat Country House, probably the most beautiful and best known country house in Curaçao. The magnificent building was built in 1750 as a successful cattle and goat farm and was acquired in 1925 by the Shell Group, which in 1954 left it to a private foundation for the preservation of historical monuments.
Particularly striking are the two mighty towers, whose function is not entirely clear to this day. Either they served as watchtowers or as a prison for slaves, which, however, still does not explain the designation in the vernacular as "love nest".
The majestic country house can be visited from the outside, and every now and then events with music, dancing and banquets take place. During the day, however, the house is almost eerily quiet.
Before the country house Daniel you pass on the road from the country house Brievengat still the country houses Papaya, Seru Grandi and Martha Koosje. The latter is a restaurant lovingly furnished with antiques and named after its former owner.
Country house Daniel
The country house Daniel was named after its builder Daniel Ellis. It dates from 1650 and was not built as a plantation, but in the quiet hills of Curaçao as a resting place for horse and rider.
Country house Ascension
Candy pink country house Ascension near Barber is an ideal example of a country house built on a hill. It was built by the Spanish as early as the 16th century, expanded in the 18th century and renovated in 1963. Today it belongs to the Navy and is open to visitors who were not deterred by the cactus-lined driveway.
Country house Savonet
The Savonet country house is located directly on the road from Willemstad to Westpunt and is also considered the entrance to Christoffelpark. Tickets and road maps for Curaçao's largest national park are available here. It is also home to the Savonet Museum, which documents the island's history through archaeological finds in Christoffel Park.
Country house Knip
Anyone who climbed Christoffelberg in Christoffelpark could already catch a glimpse of the Knip country house from a lofty height, shining like a yellow toy house out of the lush greenery of Curaçao's north. The classic mansion dates back to the 17th century and was already one of the most impressive country houses on the island.
Records indicate that in 1867, 353 people, 2400 sheep, 680 goats, 364 cows, 100 pigs and 30 horses populated the Knip country house. Even today, the sprawling structure is a magnificent example of plantation architecture of the time. As the alleged starting point of the slave revolt in 1795, it also has historical significance.
Country house Pannekoek
The Pannekoek country house is located directly on the road from Dorp Soto to Willemstad and has nothing to do with pancakes, but was built in the 18th century by Gerrit Pannekoek. Today it serves as a youth center for Willemstad's students.
Country house Jan Kok
Built in 1750, the Jan Kok country house was once used for salt production in nearby Sint Mariebaai, rather than for livestock. This is perhaps the reason for the bright white rather than the usual bright yellows of the country house. From its hill there is a beautiful view of the neighboring country house Hermanus and the church of Dorp Sind Willibrordus.