Many of us know and overlook this monument without knowing the past, how and why it was built, although it is known few give the necessary value. Our monument, which by many is called the Aruba Historical museum with original name Fort Zoutman, ‘Willem de 3de Toren’, is located in front of the official office of the Governor of Aruba in the Oranjestad district.
Fort Zoutman was built in the year 1796, which makes it the oldest monument that still exists in the Oranjestad , Fort Zoutman was built in two years and built by different African slaves who previously lived in Aruba. In 1796 under the request of the governor Johann Rudolf Lauffer who proposed that Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao build a fortress to protect the islands from pirates and other enemies that were going on around in those times. Fort Zoutman was named Johan Arnold Zoutman who was at the time of construction a Dutch Rear Admiral who had two stars, who at that time participated in two wars for the Netherlands. Fort Zoutman was located on the edge of Aruba next to the seashore. It was initially armed with four cannons. The area was later developed with the expansion around them and the construction of hotels and Renaissance Marketplace and much more because of the economic growth in the Oranjestad.
The renovation of Fort Zoutman began in 1826 under the command of Simon Plats who found it to be in poor condition. The prison cells were built against the west and east walls, eliminating some of the gaps made in the wall by firearms; these cells were built by colonial policemen who at that time were located there. The eastern cells were replaced with concrete walls in 1936. The current walls date back to 1936, and 31 of 35 firearms gaps were counted on the prime walls with the most recent restoration of Fort Zoutman in 1974.
In a request by J.H. Ferguson for an additional construction Fort Zoutman found a part that now serves as the main entrance of Fort Zoutman, this is “Willem III Tower”. Willem de 3de Toren. Willem III Tower was built near Fort Zoutman in order to function as a Light Tower near the coast of Aruba. This changed its function after different light adaptations it was decided to remove the light completely which removed the function of the “Light Tower” for one that gives you time and with a bell. That was not its only function as different departments such as courtroom, library, post office, tax office, watchtower and a station for the Aruba Police Force. All these establishments made use of the Willem III Tower. Fort Zoutman and Willem III Tower were restored from 1974 to 1980. On September 15, 1983, the monument was reopened as the Historical Museum of Aruba. The Aruban Museum Foundation has been managing the museum since March 16, 1992.
The actual Fort Zoutman and Willem III Tower now with the function of a museum receives several tourists daily that are amazed by the history they face as soon they see and walk through a place that has history, memory, and artefacts filled with different emotions and educations. Fort Zoutman, Willem III Tower and the Historical Museum of Aruba offer unforgettable experiences to tourists and locals who want to know a lot of the history of Aruba. Walking and experiencing the incredible stories that the walls, constructions, adaptations and artefacts tell is one to tell for many more years. The Historical Museum of Aruba is dotted with ancient artefacts collected and art exhibited in such a way that the story is told by themselves, Of course there are people that guide you thru the museum and teach you of everything that Fort Zoutman and still to date means for the unique history of our country and also includes the unique history of early Aruba as a country in the twentieth century.
The exhibitions open and start in the week at 9 am and close/end at 6 pm and on weekends on Saturdays from 10 to 6 pm. Also as part of the experience that this monument can offer there is on some Tuesdays of the year a night with unique experience with the name “Bon Bini Festival” from 6:30 to 9:30, two hours full of music, culture and history, a festival to present Aruba in a joyful way full of history for tourists and locals.
Also Fort Zoutman operates apart from being a museum as a destination for different presentations and cultural and local events. Fort Zoutman is a main source every year for promoting different activities and organisations and entities of Aruba with a walk equipped and full of history to make each event a memorable one and certainly one for history.
In the future, more visitors and more stories written and experiences that are going to be made and are being currently made. Fort Zoutman counts as a beautiful place to hold events and exhibitions and much more, as well as it continues with the Aruba Historical Museum whose doors are always open to share much of the unique history of our country.
To contact or to experience the history of Aruba you can always contact Aruba Historical Museum and Aruban Museum Foundation.
As young people, and the future of Aruba, let’s recognize and live our culture more closely to make sure that we are preserving our history.
‘Experience it, live it and Share it “Our History: Our Monument”‘