The eastern part of Willemstad’s downtown historic district is called Punda, which comes from the Dutch word for “point” because this part of the city sits at the end of a promontory at the mouth of St. Anna Bay. First settled in 1634, the area is a picturesque port area packed with pastel-colored colonial architectural. One of the main attractions here is Fort Amsterdam, built in 1635 as a garrison to protect the city, which is used today as the governor’s palace. Another historic site is the Mikve Israel-Emanuel synagogue, which was built in 1732, making it the oldest synagogue in the western hemisphere. Throughout Punda, you’ll find great shopping, art galleries and restaurants, and you can also take a walk across the Queen Emma Bridge, a floating pontoon bridge called the “Swinging Old Lady,” to explore the Otrabanda side of the historic downtown area.
Punda is easily walkable, and a great place to spend an afternoon shopping or people watching from a café. If you’re coming from another part of the island, you can find parking in a handful of lots within Punda.