Skip links


From ‘Steenen Padt’ to Pietermaaiweg and Kaya Wilson ‘Papa’ Godett

Pietermaai came into being in the late 17th century in the area east of Fort Amsterdam and De Willemstad, as Punda was called in those days. The district takes its name from the ship’s captain Pieter de Meij. The latter settled in Curaçao from Brazil around 1674. He owned a plantation near the current Julianaplein called ‘Zeelucht’ (Sea air). In 1680 the West Indian Trading Company (‘WIC’) auctioned off a plot in that neighborhood, which is mentioned as being close to Altena and was also called ‘Pieter de Meij’. Nicolaas van Liebergen, the then-director of the WIC in Curaçao, bought this lot. He had three houses built there for himself by slaves and with building materials belonging to the Company. His successor, director J. van Erpecum, thought this way of behaving was reprehensible and informed the Amsterdam chamber.

Across this isthmus, a road came about with the name ‘Steenen Padt’ (Stone Path). This path connected the Fort with Caracas Bay. The name was used as far back as 1673 by Jan Doncker (1673-1679 WIC director in Curaçao) in his report of the attack on the island by the French in that year. He wrote, among other things, that ‘as the enemy was already marching on Altena and the Stone Path, and was seen approaching hither.’ The path also got other names, such as the road, the common road to Altena, or the road to the Government Country house (nowadays the oldest part of the Avila Hotel). The old deeds of transfer mention the houses in Pietermaai as standing outside the ‘Steenen Padspoort’ (Stone Path Gate) on the common road to Altena. This gate was situated on the southeast side of the walled town at the beginning of the present Breedestraat, where the road to Pietermaai began. Building star¬ted approximately five hundred meters from the town to maintain a free field of fire.

The building of large villas between the town and the older part of Pietermaai came about.

In the late 17th and early 18th century, the space within the town walls became built entirely over. Drawings (mid-18th century) have been preserved of plans to extend the town in the direction of Pietermaai with a walled-in part. These plans were not carried out. Building in Pietermaai increased gradually. The government had its objections to the building beyond the protection of the town walls. For that reason, in 1753, an ordinance was issued prohibiting building more homes and expanding existing houses in Otrobanda, Scharloo, or Pietermaai.

After the occupation by the English in the early 19th century, the decision was made to fortify the defense of the island. A new defense line would be set up from Saint Ana Bay along the shore (the Water Fort) and from the present ‘Marichi’ as far as the Waaigat. Due to a lack of money, the plans were only partially executed.

Furthermore, in the 19th century, the idea that out-of-date fortifications could no longer give protection against enemy attacks won ground, therefore in the second half of the century, the demolition of the town walls was carried out. To that end, the colonial government granted a group of Jewish merchants a concession. With the debris that was made available, part of the Waaigat had to be filled in. New building grounds were won at the north and east of the town, continuing as far as the present Julianaplein. The grounds were built over gradually. Thus also, the building of large villas between the town and the older part of Pietermaai came about. It took a little longer for people to start building north of Pietermaai as well. Pictures from the late 19th century show a still largely vacant, dried plain. There the Nieuwestraat was construc¬ted, but on the Werbata map from 1906-1909, it can be seen that the lands to its north had not been built over yet.

Some years ago, the name of part of the Pietermaaiweg was changed into Kaya Wilson ‘Papa’ Godett in memory of the man who had played an important role in the events around May 30th, 1969. The office of his labor union, the ‘Algemene Haven Unie’ (General Harbor Union), was housed at Pietermaaiweg 35 from 1972 till 1991. Moreover, he was one of the founders of the political party ‘Frente Obrero i Liberashon 30 di mei’ (Labor Front and Liberation May 30th). In addition to this new name, the names Pietermaai and Pietermaaiweg are still being used.

All content of this page is written by Fosca Bosch-Kruimel on behalf of Fundashon Pro Monumento

Pietermaai District’s fondly referred to as the “SoHo” of Curaçao, its stunning architecture is likely to catch one’s eye.

Boutique hotels, small shops, cozy little cafés and top-rated restaurants snuggled together, makes the neighborhood highly walkable and perfect for exploring at your leisure. It’s a neighborhood full of mystery, magic and fun.


Pietermaai has always had a mixed population. Ship captains and ship owners settled there as long ago as the 18th century. Moreover, civil servants, merchants, craftsmen, and free Negroes and Mestizos (in Curaçao: people with discernible amounts of both European and African ancestry) lived there. It must have been a pleasant neighborhood, especially for people who preferred to live outside the densely built, stuffy inner town. In the 20th century, the neighborhood was popular as well.

An elderly resident can still remember how people used to sit on balconies or terraces in the late afternoon to watch the other inhabitants file past. In those days, Pietermaai had several small shops where one could buy all kinds of groceries. A popular store was the Johan van Walbeeckplein, where Dutch products were available. At the Nieuwestraat, a few businesses were established, such as the ice cream factory of the Maduro family, the bakeries of the Moron and Mensing families, and the furniture workshop of the Cuales’.

Annoyance because of drug addicts and the crime related thereto in the last decades of the 20th century was the reason for the well-to-do inhabitants of the neighborhood to move elsewhere. Pietermaai fell into disrepair. The restorations of recent years have attracted new inhabitants to Pietermaai. After a thorough renovation, the number of buildings was divided into apartments. Several offices were also established.