Exploring Fort Beekenburg, Curaçao
With its commanding view over Caracas Baai (bay), Fort Beekenburg has stood as a sentinel for more than three centuries. Viewed from below, the fort has the appearance of a rook chess piece strategically located to protect the island.
In 1703, the Dutch West Indies Director on Curaçao, Nicolaas van Beek, ordered the construction of this fort as part of the coordinated defense against the British, the French and pirates. Its soaring height above the surrounding water made the fort effective in its defense and now adds to its attraction.
What once would have been a loud and busy fort, today, Fort Beekenburg is still and quiet except for the constant blowing of the trade winds and the scurry of lizards. Some of the appeal perhaps, is if you listen hard enough you may hear the muffled footfalls of men that once resounded in this eerie quiet.
Before beginning to explore the fort, it may be worth the time to stop at a small parking area on the south west side of the fort (at the entrance to a large dock). This viewpoint provides an idea of the commanding presence of the fort and an opportunity for pictures from below.
The fort is accessed through a gate of large green doors, via rock stairs leading from the parking area on the east of the fort. Walking through the gate you enter what would have been a first line of defense, cannons aimed at approaching ships. It is hard to imagine the challenge of carrying the iron cannons up from the shore.
In this first part of the fort complex, in addition to a small guard house, the floors and steps of several buildings are visible. One building that attracts attention looks like it may have been a chapel. Though the roof is completely gone, the walls, and steps are intact and look to be in good condition. When you climb the steps to look into the building you realize that it was not a chapel, but a cistern to hold fresh water for the fort. We nicknamed it the “cistern chapel!”
An inner area houses the fort itself. A tall, round structure consisting of two levels with steps leading up into the fort, to a firing area for cannons on the seaward side. A tunnel and ladder in the inner part of the fort leads to the upper level. The upper level of the fort provides a broad view of Caracas Baai to the south and Spanish Water to the north.
Fort Beekenburg is an excursion worth the time. To have a good look around the fort and its buildings, give yourself 20 – 40 minutes depending on your interest level and how many pictures you want to take.
Following your exploration of the Fort you may want to head to Caracas Baai Beach for a swim, meal or snack.
To arrive at Fort Beekenburg, drive to the east end of Caracasbaaiweg, then follow the beach road to the fort. Fort Beekenburg is located at the east end of Caracas Baai Beach. There is no admission charge, no tours and no facilities at the Fort.
Whether the gate doors are open or closed, the fort is always open for exploring.