Landhuis Santa Martha
I had the opportunity to visit several great houses while I was on the island of Curacao the other day. Since Curacao was a Dutch colony at one time, the great houses, built in the 18th and 19th centuries are called Landhuizen (land house). At one time there were approximately one hundred plantations of which 55 Landhuizen still exist. The center of each plantation, usually situated on a hill, was the landhuis where the master lived with his house slaves. Scattered around the house were buildings for storage and work as well as the huts of the field hands. The landhuizen were constructed of coral stone with occasionally some decorative brick work. The high saddle roofs were covered with Dutch tiles and the water was carefully preserved since the average annual rainfall is approximately twelve inches.
The Landhuis Klein (small) Santa Martha is on a hill opposite the Landhuis Groot (large) Santa Maria. Today it is a combination of a small inn and a restaurant which looks out over the Groot Santa Martha and Saint Nicolas plantations. The plantation was rather prosperous well before 1700, producing sugar cane, pods from the divi-divi tree (used for tanning hides), and salt from the nearby Saint Martha harbor. The house was badly damaged during an invasion by the British in 1805. Notice the unique ventilation openings in the apex of the gable with their star shaped decorations under the Dutch tile roof.
If you would like a chance to either eat at the restaurant or spend a night or two, it’s an easy drive from Willemstad, the capitol of Curacao. You can find them at www.landhuisksm.com, on Facebook or call them at 559-9-864-0316.