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A walk through Paramaribo
This text is provided courtesy of sr.net.
In 1613 the two Dutchmen Dirck Cleaszoon van Sanen and Nicolaas Baliestel built a small trade company near the Indian village Parmirbo. This settlement at the west bank of the Suriname river, 23 km from the Atlantic Ocean, was the basis for the current Paramaribo, the capital of the Republic Suriname.
We will start our walk at the Onafhankelijkheidsplein (Indepence Square) which is situated in the old center of the city near the Suriname river. The most prominent building at the square is the presidental palace. This white building was built in the first half of the eighteenth century but many parts have been added in later years. The building and the private garden behind it are only accessible for ordinary people on Independence day: November 25.
Most of the buildings in Paramaribo are made from wood. At the Onafhankelijkheidsplein you can see some buildings made from bricks, for example the Ministry of Finance from 1836, which is the red building with the white tower. The bricks were used as weight for the ships that came from Europe in the years that Suriname was a colony of The Netherlands. You will discover that most old wooden buildings have foundations made from these red bricks. In front of the Ministry of Finance is a statue of Suriname's most famous politician Johan Adolf Pengel, a prime-minister of the sixties.
We walk to the Grote Combeweg. Between this road and the Suriname river we find the Palmentuin (Garden of the Palms). In the nineteenth century the Palmentuin was part of the garden of the presidental palace. At the beginning of the twentieth century it was opened for the general public. From the Palmentuin you can see part of the private garden of the president.
Our walk takes us through the Palmentuin to the Kleine Combeweg. In the area between this road and the river there are many monumental buildings, the most famous of which is the fort Zeelandia. The fort is more than 350 years old. It was built by French colonists, improved by English colonists and later on used by Dutch colonists. In 1667 it received its current name. In the twentieth century the fort was used as a museum. From 1981 to 1992 it was used by the Surinamese army as a military basis. The army withdrew from the fort and currently it might become a museum again.
Facing Onafhankelijkheidsplein (Indepence Square) in front of fort Zeelandia is the temporary National Assembly building. The original (at the bottom of Gravenstraat) burnt down in 1996.
From fort Zeelandia we walk along the river through the Waterkant (Waterside) boulevard. The buildings you see at the Waterkant were built after the the city fires of 1821 and 1832. They originally were houses of merchandisers. We walk past the white brick Waaggebouw along the river. At your right you see the remains of the old police office. This building was destroyed in 1980 when the army overtook the government. The ferries to the village Meerzorg across the Suriname river leave from some two hundred metres further along the Waterkant.
We stay at the Waterkant and walk to the large white building at the left of the street. This is the central market of Paramaribo. In the market you will find many different kinds of food. Because of the different origins of the Surinamese people you might recognize African beside Indian influences. Do not forget to visit the second story of the market hall.
We leave the market and walk to the Steenbakkerijstraat. In the street beside, the Dr. Sophie Redmondstraat, you see the highest office building of Suriname: the eight-storey Hakrinbank building. The Steenbakkerijstraat is one of the major shopping streets of Paramaribo. We walk to another major shopping street: the Domineestraat. At the nearest left corner of the street you see the department store Kersten. Across Kersten you find a supermarket and on top of it Hotel Krasnapolsky. At this corner we switch right and walk to Spanhoek.
At Spanhoek the blue building in front of you is department store Fernandes. The high building at your right is the office of the telecommunication company of Suriname (TeleSur). This is the place from which you can make your foreign phone calls or send faxes. In front of the TeleSur building you see a fountain and a small tower that contains a carillion. At Spanhoek we switch right and walk through the Keizerstraat to the Kerkplein (Square of the Church).
At the center of Kerkplein you find the Reformed Church. The church was finished in 1837. The building contains eight sides, just like the original church that was destryed in the city fire of 1821. To the left of the church you see the prime post office of Paramaribo. We walk through the Noorderkerkstraat to Gravenstraat. The modern white building you see in the Gravenstraat is the main office of the Surinaamse bank. The yellow cathedral St. Petrus and Paulus on its right is one of the largest wooden buildings of South America. The cathedral was built in the last two decades of the eighteenth century. It has been closed for the public after a renovation in 1979 that almost caused it to collapse.
We follow the Gravenstraat back to the Onafhankelijkheidsplein.We hope you enjoyed this walk!