“Willemstad’s waterfront looks positively unreal, like a doll city plunked down into the Caribbean. The oldest section of Curaçao’s capital dates back to 1634, and the commingling of Dutch architecture and a Caribbean palette has resulted in a riotous cityscape rivaling the town’s own Carnival for vibrancy.”
“Willemstad appears like a wedding cake on steroids. The Dutch buildings are painted in bright blue, green and yellow and often framed with white trim, reminiscent of cake frosting. This distinctive architecture gives Willemstad considerable cultural and historical significance, which is why UNESCO in 1997 declared the entire city a World Heritage Site, one of few such designations in the Caribbean.”
Meet the (surely, once dashing) Albert Kikkert:
After serving in the Dutch military during the Anglo-Dutch Battle of Dogger Bank (1781), Kikkert was shipped off to Curaçao to serve as Captain, protecting our border from unwanted British guests. Kikkert found some free time on his hands and decided to multi-task, running his own plantation (St. Jan) on the side, while living in the building currently housing Avila Hotel. Baller.
Kikkert returned to the Netherlands in the early 1800s to continue to climb the military ladder (Captain – Officer – Vice Admiral – Knight), deepening his ties within the Dutch monarchy. He ended up playing a critical role in defending Dordrecht during the Napoleonic Wars (1813).
When Kikkert made his way back down to Curaçao in 1816, Dutch King Willem I appointed him Governor of Curaçao, Aruba and Bonaire.
His first order of business came from the doctor: all that equatorial sun reflecting so heavily on the white houses in Willemstad was giving Kikkert migraine headaches distracting his duties as Governor. So he literally ordered Willemstad dwellers to ‘paint the town’. They all made their way to the only paint factory around and picked out gallons and gallons of their favorite pastel color, the more colors the merrier…!
A few years later — well after Kikkert’s passing in 1819 — it was discovered that he also owned (many!) shares in the (only) paint factory on the island.