Paramaribo is a former Dutch colonial town from the 17th and 18th centuries planted on the northern coast of tropical South America. The original street plan of the historic center remains intact. Its buildings illustrate the fusion of Dutch architectural influence with traditional local techniques and materials.
Historic Inner City of Paramaribo
The Historic Inner City of Paramaribo is located along the left bank of the Suriname River and is defined by the Sommelsdijkse Kreek to the north and the Viottekreek to the south. The Historic Inner City of Paramaribo has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002.
Paramaribo has a population of roughly 241,000 people (2012 census), almost half of Suriname's population. It is the capital and largest city of Suriname.
Paramaribo is a former Dutch colonial town dating from the 17th and 18th centuries planted on the northeastern coast of Suriname in tropical South America. The original and highly characteristic street plan of the historic center remains intact.
In 1667, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, Paramaribo was conquered by a squadron of ships under Abraham Crijnssen. The Treaty of Breda in 1667 confirmed Paramaribo as the leading town of the now Dutch colony of Suriname.
The fort protecting Paramaribo was renamed Fort Zeelandia in honor of the Dutch province that had financed Crijnssen’s fleet. (The town was also renamed New Middelburg but the name did not catch on with the inhabitants).
Laid out from 1683 on a grid pattern along an axis running northwest from Fort Zeelandia, the main streets follow shell ridges which provided a naturally drained base for building. At the end of the 18th century, Dutch engineering and town planning skills enabled the town to be extended over marshy land to the north.
Composed of mainly wooden buildings, the plain and symmetrical architectural style illustrating the gradual fusion of Dutch and other European architectural and later North American influences as well as elements from Creole culture, reflects the multi-cultural society of Suriname.
Important elements in the townscape are:
Fort Zeelandia, built in 1667, with a large public park (Garden of Palms)
wide, tree-lined streets and open spaces
Presidential Palace (1730), built in stone but with a wooden upper floor
Ministry of Finance (1841), a monumental brick structure with classical portico and clock tower
Reformed Church (1837), in Neoclassical style
Gothic Revival Roman Catholic Cathedral (1885), built in wood