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Historic Inner City of Paramaribo

Historic Inner City of Paramaribo

Paramaribo is a former Dutch colonial town from the 17th and 18th centuries planted on the northern coast of tropical South America. The original and highly characteristic street plan of the historic centre remains intact. Its buildings illustrate the gradual fusion of Dutch architectural influence with traditional local techniques and materials.

Centre ville historique de Paramaribo

Paramaribo est une ancienne ville coloniale hollandaise des XVIIe et XVIIIe siècles implantée sur la côte nord tropicale de l'Amérique du Sud. Le centre historique a conservé intact le tracé d'origine, fort caractéristique, de ses rues. Ses édifices illustrent la fusion progressive de l'architecture hollandaise avec les techniques et matériaux locaux.

وسط مدينة باراماريبو التاريخي

باراماريبو مستعمرة هولندية قديمة ترقى الى القرنين السابع عشر والثامن عشر، وهي تقع على الساحل الشمالي المداري لأميركا الجنوبية. وقد حافظ الوسط التاريخي على التخطيط الأساسي الذي يميّز شوارعه، في حين تجسّد ابنيته الاندماج التدريجي للهندسة الهولندية في التقنيات والمعدات المحلية.

source: UNESCO/ERI

帕拉马里博的古内城

帕拉马里博位于南美洲热带地区北海岸上,曾经是17世纪至18世纪时的荷兰殖民地。帕拉马里博城内古老的市中心仍然保持着昔日那富有创意、极具特色的街道布局。内城的建筑物依然在向世人展示着荷兰建筑风格与当地传统建筑方法和建筑材料的逐步融合。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Исторический центр города Парамарибо

Парамарибо – это бывший голландский колониальный город XVII-XVIII вв., основанный на северном побережье тропической Южной Америки. Первоначальный и весьма характерный план улиц исторического центра остался неизменным. Архитектура его зданий демонстрирует то, как голландские влияния постепенно соединялись с традиционными для этого района строительными технологиями и материалами.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Centro histórico de Paramaribo

Situada en la costa septentrional de la Sudamérica tropical, la antigua ciudad colonial holandesa de Paramaribo data de los siglos XVII y XVIII. Su centro histórico ha conservado intacto el trazado peculiar de sus calles, así como edificios ilustrativos de la paulatina fusión del estilo arquitectónico holandés con las técnicas y materiales autóctonos.

source: UNESCO/ERI

パラマリボ市街歴史地区

source: NFUAJ

Historische binnenstad van Paramaribo

Paramaribo is een voormalige Nederlandse koloniale stad uit de 17e en 18e eeuw en ligt aan de noordelijke kust van tropisch Zuid-Amerika. Het originele en zeer karakteristieke stratenplan van het historisch centrum is intact gebleven. Paramaribo is een uniek voorbeeld van het contact tussen de Europese cultuur van Nederland en de inheemse culturen en het leefklimaat van Zuid-Amerika tijdens de jaren van intensieve kolonisatie van dit gebied: de 16e en 17e eeuw. De gebouwen in Paramaribo weerspiegelen dit; het zijn mooie voorbeelden van de geleidelijke samensmelting van Europese architectuur en constructietechnieken met inheemse Zuid-Amerikaanse materialen en ambachten.

Source: unesco.nl

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Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

Paramaribo is a former Dutch colonial town dating from the 17th and 18th centuries planted on the Northeastern coast of tropical South America. 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. The historic inner city 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. Laid out from 1683 on a grid pattern along an axis running north-west 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. Important elements in the townscape are Fort Zeelandia built in 1667 and the large public park (Garden of Palms) behind it, wide, tree-lined streets and open spaces; the Presidential Palace (1730) built in stone but with a wooden upper floor, the Ministry of Finance (1841) a monumental brick structure with classical portico and clock tower, the Reformed Church (1837) in Neoclassical style, and the Gothic Revival Roman Catholic Cathedral (1885) built in wood.

Criterion (ii): Paramaribo is an exceptional example of the gradual fusion of European architecture and construction techniques with indigenous South American materials and crafts to create a new architectural idiom.

Criterion (iv): Paramaribo is a unique example of the contact between the European culture of the Netherlands and the indigenous cultures and environment of South America in the years of intensive colonization of this region in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Integrity

At the time of inscription it was recorded that most of the urban fabric of Paramaribo dating form 1680-1800 still survives virtually intact, mainly due to low economic growth in the past three decades. The original urban pattern is still authentic in relation to the historical built environment, because no major infrastructural changes have taken place, no building lines have been altered and no high-rising buildings have been built in the city centre. The timber buildings are vulnerable to fire, and the inner city is vulnerable to lack of enforcement of protective controls as well as neglect due to the socio-economic situation. Since then the integrity of the property has been compromised by insertion of a new flag square, altering the urban pattern around Independence Square and introducing a hard paved surface in place of green landscaping. The property’s integrity is vulnerable to Waterfront development, which while having the potential to contribute positively to the town’s economy, also has the potential to impact severely on the Outstanding Universal Value of the property if not appropriately designed and located.

Authenticity

There are 291 listed monuments in Paramaribo and in the past three decades only a few have disappeared in favor of new developments. Many of the monuments exhibit high authenticity because of the use of traditional techniques and materials in repair and rehabilitation works, although some timber buildings have been replaced in concrete.

Protection and management requirements

Protection of the about 250 listed monuments of Paramaribo was initially guaranteed under the 1963 Monuments Act. In 2002 this Act was replaced by a new Monuments Bill (S.B. 5 September 2002 No. 72) which provides for the designation of protected historic quarters with controls over interventions and provision for subsidies to owners for conservation works. In 2007 and 2010 two new monuments were added to the monuments list of Paramaribo and in 2011 the list was further enlarged with another 25 official monuments.

For the protection of the site a State Resolution regarding the implementation of article 4 section 2 of the Building Code of 1956 was approved by the President of the Republic of Suriname (S.B. 31 October 2011 No. 74). This resolution established an Expert Building Committee (Special Advisory Committee) and designated the historic inner city and adjacent buffer zones. The Expert Building Committee reviews new building plans within the World Heritage Site according to aesthetic criteria for modern architecture. These special building criteria were published in the Gazette (Advertentieblad van de Republiek Suriname, A.R.S. 29 April 2003 no. 34).

The Paramaribo World Heritage Site Management Plan (PWHSMP) 2011-2015 was officially endorsed by the Council of Ministers on 28 January 2014. However the Management Authority (Surinam Built Heritage Foundation or Stichting Gebouwd Erfgoed Suriname -SGES) formed to implement it has not been properly empowered with adequate staffing, the definition of precise actions, timelines and budgets. The authority of SGES as the Site Manager needs to be reinforced through adequate regulatory and legislative measures and communicated to all governmental levels as well as to all stakeholders and the community.

On October 25th 2011 the ‘Stichting Stadsherstel Paramaribo’ was created as a predecessor for the "Suriname Conservation Ltd. (Stadsherstel Suriname N.V. established on 25 May 2013). This foundation purchases dilapidated historical buildings/monuments, restores and re-uses them in order to preserve the historic cityscape. The first property, located at the Julianastraat 56’ was acquired in January 2012 and has been restored and let. Others have since been purchased.

Long Description

Paramaribo is a unique example of the contact between the European culture of the Netherlands and the indigenous cultures and environment of South America in the years of intensive colonization of this region in the 16th and 17th centuries. The gradual fusion of European architecture and construction techniques with indigenous materials and crafts led to the creation of a new architectural idiom.

From the beginning of the 17th century, colonization of the Wild Coast was directed towards the cultivation of sugar cane and tobacco. European governments encouraged settlers to establish plantations in order to exploit the region. The Dutch, in search of tobacco and hardwoods, had settled as early as 1614 on the Corantijn River and near the Indian village of Parmarbo or Parmurbo on the banks of the Suriname River. Suriname remained a Dutch possession for the next three centuries. Paramaribo began when Fort Zeelandia was built in 1667 on a promontory on the left bank of the Suriname River. In 1683 Van Sommelsdijck, the first governor and joint owner of the colony, laid out a planned town.

In addition to Fort Zeelandia, Paramaribo was also protected by the Nieuw-Amsterdam Fortress at the confluence of the Suriname and Commewijne rivers, near the coast. Because of these strong defensive works, it was not necessary for the town to be fortified, which allowed it to be laid out in spacious lots along wide streets. By the end of the 18th century, settlers who had hitherto lived on their plantations began to migrate to Paramaribo, leaving the running of the plantations to managers. As a result, the plantations began to decline, but the town grew, with many fine houses built along tree-lined streets. Disastrous fires in 1821 and again in 1832 led to much of the existing town being destroyed.

The economic situation of Suriname worsened as the plantations declined, with beet being replaced as the source of sugar, and the situation deteriorated further when slavery was abolished in 1863. Their owners and the freed slaves moved to Paramaribo, which expanded rapidly. To replace the slaves, the government brought in labourers to work the remaining plantations, first from China and the West Indies and later from India and Java, increasing its cultural and ethnic diversity.

The layout of the Inner City consists of a main axis stretching north-west behind Fort Zeelandia (the group of public buildings here is the central ensemble in the town plan), with streets crossing at right angles. To the north of Fort Zeelandia is the large public park known as the Garden of Palms. The wide streets and the public open spaces are tree-lined, giving a serene and spacious townscape. The larger public buildings, such as Fort Zeelandia, the Presidential Palace, the Ministry of Finance, the Reformed Church, and the Roman Catholic cathedral, were built from stone and brick in traditional Dutch style but increasingly incorporating native elements. Thus, the ground floor of the Presidential Palace is of stone but its upper storeys are of wood. Interestingly, the neoclassical Reformed Church is built from brick but the neo-Gothic Roman Catholic cathedral is entirely of wood. Most of the buildings in Paramaribo, both commercial and residential, are built entirely from wood, the majority of them following the 1821 and 1832 fires. The work was carried out by local craftsmen. They all conform to a general layout: they are rectangular and symmetrical in plan with steep roofs and brick substructures. Both these and the public buildings are generally painted white, the brick elements being highlighted in red. Doors and window shutters are in dark green.

There has been considerable restoration work on a number of other, non-listed, buildings; this has preserved the traditional style but has made use of contemporary materials, such as concrete simulating wood. Nevertheless, the overall urban fabric of Paramaribo, which dates from 1680-1800, still survives virtually intact and the authenticity of the townscape is exceptionally high.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

The first voyages of discovery to the so-called "Wild Coast" of South America were made in 1499 by the Spaniards Alonso and Juan de la Cosa, accompanied by Amerigo Vespucci. Rumours soon circulated about an Inca "City of Gold" (El Dorado) at Lake Parima in the interior of modern Guyana, and many adventurers were attracted to this coast, but Eldorado remained a legend.

From the beginning of the 17th century colonization of the Wild Coast was directed towards the cultivation of sugarcane and tobacco. European governments encouraged settlers to establish plantations in order to exploit the region to meet the increasing demand for tropical products in Europe. English planters from Barbados arrived in the mid 17th century. The Dutch, who had a trading patent, also came to the coast around this time in search of tobacco and hardwoods; Dutch trading posts existed as early as 1614 on the Corantijn river and near the Indian village of Parmarbo or Parmurbo on the banks of the Suriname river. The English were driven out by a Dutch fleet commanded by Abraham Crijnssen during the Second Anglo-Dutch War (1665-67), and Suriname remained a Dutch possession for the next three centuries.

By the end of the 18th century there were some six hundred plantations in operation. In the second half of the century the owners, who had hitherto lived on their plantations, began to migrate to Paramaribo, leaving the running of the plantations to managers. As a result, the plantations began to decline, but the town grew, with many fine houses built along tree-lined streets.

The economic situation of Suriname worsened as the plantations declined, with beet being replaced as the source of sugar, and the situation deteriorated further when slavery was abolished in 1863. Fewer than a hundred plantations survived, and their owners and the freed slaves moved to Paramaribo, which expanded rapidly.

To replace the slaves, the government brought in labourers to work the remaining plantations, first from China and the West Indies and later from India and Java. Between 1873 and 1939 34,000 Indians and 33,000 Javanese immigrated to Suriname, increasing its cultural and ethnic diversity and this is reflected in the present-day appearance of Paramaribo, which developed from an administrative centre and port into a city with multifarious activities existing side by side.

Paramaribo began when Fort Zeelandia was built in 1667 on a promontory on the left bank of the Suriname river, but early civil development was low-quality and random. When Van Sommelsdijck, the first governor and joint owner of the colony, took over in 1683 he laid out a planned town. It began on the shell ridges to the west, which offered a naturally drained hard base for building. In the mid 18th century it expanded southwards to the sandy land along the river, and finally at the end of the century to the north, where Dutch civil engineers used their skills to drain the area.

In addition to Fort Zeelandia, Paramaribo was also protected by the Nieuw-Amsterdam Fortress at the confluence of the Suriname and Commewijne rivers, near the coast. Because of these strong defensive works, it was not necessary for the town to be fortified, which allowed it to be laid out in spacious lots along wide streets.

There were disastrous fires in 1821 and again in 1832, when much of the existing town was destroyed.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation