On the eastern South American coast lies Suriname, a sparsely populated country rich in untouched Amazonian jungle and unspoiled beaches. Large cities are few in this Caribbean nation. Nevertheless, Paramaribo, the capital, is a lively town. Furthermore, it is rich with historical significance.
Only 9 miles from the ocean, Paramaribo was the location of the very first Dutch settlement in Suriname. In addition, the French established an outpost around 1644, and English settlers arrived around 1650. These settlers often forced the region’s indigenous inhabitants into slavery. Once the slaves gained their freedom, there was a shortage of workers on the plantations.
To solve this problem, workers arrived from China, India, and other Asian countries. For this reason, the population of Paramaribo has always been extremely diverse. Today, a walk through its streets will leave you in awe of the astounding variety of architecture contained in just one city. There are Jewish synagogues, Hindu temples, Catholic cathedrals, Dutch colonial buildings, and stately English plantations.
Not surprisingly, the historic inner city of Paramaribo is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The city takes pride in restoring and preserving the Dutch colonial buildings that harken back to colonial days.
Notable historical buildings in Paramaribo
There are far too many interesting buildings in Paramaribo to mention here. Nevertheless, here are some of the most famous:
- Fort Zeelandia: The French built this wooden fort in 1640. In 1667, the English captured the fortress and used it to defend the town against a Dutch invasion. When the Dutch prevailed took over the colony, they renamed it Fort Zeelandia. However, after Suriname gained independence in 1975, a military government took over. This government used the fort to hold political prisoners in the 1980s.
- Saint Peter and Paul Cathedral: This grand wooden church is the largest wooden building in the Western Hemisphere. Construction began in 1885 and was completed in 1901. Its incredible interior is made of unpainted cedar from Suriname.
- Presidential Palace of Suriname: Designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the palace is the official residence of Suriname’s president. Built in 1730, it is one of the best preserved examples of Dutch architecture in the country. Today, the government hosts events within its beautiful rooms and gardens.
- Arya Dewaker Hindu Temple: Since its completion in 2001, this Hindu Temple attracts visitors from all over the world, thanks to its sheer size and intricate designs. Interestingly, an original temple was built on this site in the 1930s, but was demolished in 1975 in order to build the new one. Some might consider it odd to see such a structure in a South American country. However, Hinduism has become part of the fabric of Paramaribo since colonial days when settlers from India arrived to work on the plantations.
Once you’ve booked your flight, you’ll need to decide where you’ll stay. There are plenty of mid-range and luxury accomodations in Paramaribo to make your vacation memorable and comfortable. Be sure to choose a hotel or villa with a pool. That way, you’ll be able to cool off in the warm tropical climate.
Next, choose what experiences you would like to try during your trip. Suriname may be “off the beaten path”. However, you’ll be able to enjoy fine dining and nightlife if you stay in Paramaribo. Try your luck at the casino by night. By day, book a concierge service to help you decide which activities to try.
Find out more about Suriname and book your dream vacation today! Read 10 Incredible Things to Experience in Suriname.
Main image source: britannica.com