The Queen Emma Bridge of Curacao is a pontoon bridge that connects the Punda and Otrobanda quarters of the capital city, Willemstad. Popularly known as “Our Swinging Old Lady”, this bridge is located across St. Anna Bay in Curacao and offers a beautiful view of the colourful architecture of Willemstad. A walk on this floating bridge is a great way to go back in time and relieve history.
Built in 1888 by Leonard Burlington Smith, the bridge was named after the famous Dutch queen- Queen Emma (1890–1898). Supported by 16 floating pontoon boats, the hinged bridge swings open to allow ships to access the port. From 1901 to 1934, all pedestrians crossing the bridge were subject to a pay a toll but the ones without shoes were exempt from this toll. An operator from a nearby shelter controls the engines to the propellers which allow the bridge to swing parallel to the shore.
How long will it take?
The bridge was completely renovated in 1939.The bridge takes only a few minutes to swing in and out for the smaller boats but for bigger ships the bridge may move to the side even for an hour.
What time should you go?
The bridge is open 24 hours. It is recommended to walk the bridge during broad daylight once to get a clear view of the city’s architecture and then once at night to enjoy the color changing LEDs as well as the night view of the city.
Is it free?
Absolutely! You don’t have to pay a toll anymore to enjoy this unique experience. When the bridge is open to allow passage to the ships, pedestrians are transported free of cost by a small ferry (ponchi). This ferry operates in intervals of about 15 minutes.
A word of caution
If you are in a hurry, then remember to check the timings before you enter the bridge. A blue flag indicates that the bridge will be available for walking in 10-15 minutes where as an orange flag indicates a greater delay for large ships to pass. You are allowed to be on the bridge even when it opens but you may be stranded there for a while if there are large ships coming through.
Overall, this bridge is a piece of history that has stood the test of time and retains its old charm. Take a walk during the day to observe the ships and vessels and come back once more after sunset for a romantic stroll to enjoy the city lights.
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