Fort Nassau – History
Near the end of the year 1796 the owner of the Sablica Hill and the surrounding plantation, Mr. Hubertus Coerman, received a letter from the Military Committee of the Curaçao Council, announcing that a fort would be built on his property. To the discontent of the citizens it was also decided that they had to come up with the necessary funds to build the fort: sixty thousand guilders, an enormous amount in those days. Moreover the people had their doubts about the use of a defending fort, justly so as it turned out. The fort never played a very active part in the defense of the town. It had mostly a preventive function. Only on January 1st, 1807, the fort came into action against an English invasion, but to no effect.
The Curaçao forts owe their existence to the expansion wars that were fought by the Spaniards, the Dutch, the Portuguese, the English, the French and the Scandinavians in the Caribbean area.
This fort was originally called “Fort Republiek” (Republic) after the Batavian Republic that was founded near the end of the 18th century by the French rulers in Holland. In 1807, when the English invaded the island successfully and took control in spite of the fire from the fort, the name changed to “Fort George” to honor England’s king George III. In 1816, due to lasting peace between Holland and England, the island was given back to the Dutch. In honor of the Dutch royal family the fort was renamed “Fort Orange Nassau”, soon to be called in popular speech “Fort Nassau”.
Other than the name, the fort has relatively changed very little over the years. In the period after 1825, when it ceased to be active, it has gained more experience in supplying good food than in conducting of wars. In 1958, just after Curaçao became autonomous, the Curaçao Foundation for the Preservation of Monuments was given a long-lease contract in order to exploit the fort as a recreational and tourist attraction. From 1959 there has been a restaurant in Fort Nassau. Furthermore the fort remains important for the harbor, serving as a signal-station for the incoming and outgoing vessels in the St. Anna Bay.