Long ago, Curaçao was home to as many as 100 plantations that grew sugar cane, aloe and indigo. The centrepiece of each plantation was the estate: a spacious mansion that housed the plantation owner, the family and the house slaves. The house was usually set on a beautiful location such as a hilltop, with sweeping views of the plantation and the other buildings. Approximately half of these estates still stand and dozens have been beautifully restored and renovated. Today many of these mansions operate as a museum, restaurant or boutique hotel.
Delve into the dark history of slavery of the Estate Savonet which dates back to 1662, take a tour of the Estate Ascension (1672), or eat delicious grilled fish on the veranda of Estate Brakkeput (1733). You may also spend the night at an estate: Estate Daniel is an intimate boutique hotel with 8 guest rooms; Estate Santa Barbara has been transformed into a deluxe resort with a golf course; and Estate Jan Thiel can be rented for groups up to 20 people. Below you'll find a description of the 3 most interesting estates.
Plantation owner Jan Kok was notorious for the cruel treatment of his slaves and his evil spirit still seems to haunt the estate. Perhaps his watchful presence was the reason why the 1840 estate was remarkably well preserved; even the old slave bell is still in place. The patio offers a lovely view over the former plantation and the saltpans of Sint Marie. Today, pink flamingos have taken the place of the downtrodden slaves. The country estate also houses local artist Nena Sanchez who has a gallery here.
Curaçao’s most important historic estate lies near the island’s two most beautiful beaches, Grote en Kleine Knip. The estate is famous for the major slave revolt that started here in 1795. Rebel leader Tula, who was publicly executed after the uprising, is still a beloved hero of the people on Curaçao. In 2013, a movie came out about the tragedy entitled: ‘Tula: The Revolt’. Estate Knip is now a museum.
Estate Misjé was built in 1896 after slavery had been abolished and plantation owners were less wealthy. Compared to some of the other very opulent estates, the charming ochre-coloured Misjé looks more like a slave home. There are tables on the porch and in the garden; inside chef Graciela shows off her culinary talents. Without using any recipes but with a passion for cooking, Graciela prepares Caribbean food with a modern twist, such as fish curry, shrimp in garlic pesto or oxtail stew.