Suriname is known for its exceptionally beautiful landscape, exciting eco-tourism destinations and impressive colonial architecture.
Paramaribo, the 17th-century capital, is graced with attractive Dutch, French, Spanish and British colonial architecture. If you look at the buildings closely, you’ll find a great preference for symmetry.
They all share the same principles: a rectangle form, with a symmetric division and a high ascending roof. The buildings were painted in the colours white, for the front, green for the shutters and red for the brick pavements. Striking is also the excessive use of wood. This use of wood does make it sensitive to fire, which Suriname experienced with the large fires of 1821 and 1832 where a great part of the city went up in flames.
The buildings in the city are characterized by classical high pavements and colonnades, a design that is popular in the south-eastern streets of North-America. These portico’s were replaced by the more modest, and for Paramaribo so characteristic, wooden galleries.
Walking through the city we see that, in spite of, the basic principles you find in all the buildings, they are not in the least uniform. They all have their distinct details to distinguish themselves from one another. Study the boundless variations of the pavements, pillars and portals with their distinctive features or sometimes find the initials of previous owners interwoven in the skylight.
With the use of concrete, the charming traditional wooden architecture was replaced with a less majestic style.
1. The Presidential Palace
The Presidential Palace was once the Governors house. In 1730 the building was pulled up in brick and expanded. The building has been altered and improved a lot during the years. The Presidential Palace makes a bright and cool impression and has a beautiful garden.
2. Fort Zeelandia
The fort was once called fort Willoughby, named after the English governor of Barbados who ordered the colonization of Suriname in 1650. But when the colony was conquered by the Dutch, the name was changed to Fort Zeelandia. Nowadays, the national museum is located here.
3. The Lutheran Church
This Church was completed in 1834, after the original building was destroyed in the fire of 1832. The design is of the architect C.A. Roman, who also designed the Reformed Church at Kerkplein.
4. The Reformed Church
This church is located on Kerkplein, which was once the Oranjetuin. The original church went up in flames in the great fire of 1821 and was rebuilt in 1835. Since Oranjetuin was a graveyard for the distinguished colonists, the graves were excavated to make way for the church. The tombstones lay imbedded in the concrete floor of the church. The tombstone of the infamous Maria Suzanne Duplessis is also amongst them.
5. The Parsonage building
The building was put into use as such in 1866. Presently, it accommodates the National School of music.
6. The St Peter and Paul Cathedral
The Cathedral was built in 1883 by Friar Frans Harmes. The Cathedral is a Surinamese execution of the neo-roman and neo-gothic style.
7. Court of Justice
This building was erected in stone in 1791. In 1773 the court took this building into use, but because it was so dilapidated they decided to rebuild it in stone. The stairs build in Louis XV style, dates from the period the building was used as a city residence by the family Wangenheim –Dufour.
Around the middle of the 17th century, Jewish colonist from Brazil obtained permission from the English to settle along the Suriname River. The first group settled at Thorarica, but later they settled on Jodensavanne. In 1685 a synagogue was built and the ruins which still stand represent the oldest remnants of a synagogue in the western hemisphere.
On the corner of the Waterkant and the square stands Cornerhouse. Exceptional is, that it was the first building together with Waaggebouw, to be rebuilt after the big fire of 1821. An important difference after the rebuilding is that its front faces the Waterkant, while the previous one overlooked the square.
10. The Evangelists Church Nickerie
This picturesque church which is still being used today was built in 1902.
11. The Ministry of Finance
This building was intended to be a city hall and was completed in 1841. The original design did not have a tower, but the architect J.A. Voigt added it because the wife of the governor, Mrs. Van Heekeren, thought it would look nice. Because mrs. Heekeren was from the Dutch city Groningen, he took the tower of Groningen’s city hall as a model.
12. The Statue of Queen Wilhelmina
The Statue was first placed on the Onafhankelijkheidsplein in 1923 in honour of the silver jubilee of her reign. When Suriname became independent in 1975, the statue was moved to Fort Zeelandia. It is the only complete statue of this queen in existence.
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