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Netherlands Antilles: Pontoon Bridge

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Pontoon Bridge | Netherlands Antilles | Americas

[Visited: February 2001]

Curacao boasts one of the largest deep-sea natural harbours in the world. Access to the ocean is through the narrow St. Anna Bay. Expansion in past centuries has resulted in Willemstad having grown on both sides of the Bay. To make transportation between these parts possible, a pontoon bridge was constructed in the 19th century. Now, besides its function as a bridge, it is also a major attraction for visitors to this town. The locals call it "the swinging old lady".

Picture of Pontoon Bridge (Netherlands Antilles): Queen Emma pontoon bridge, Willemstad

Most of the day the bridge is open for pedestrians, and can be crossed in a few minutes walk. It is a funny sensation to walk on a bridge which is lifted by every wave, and if you're very sensitive, you could probably even get seasick just by standing on this bridge! It also makes noises, and you can see waves going through the surface of the bridge itself. But the real fun starts when the bells start to ring.

Picture of Pontoon Bridge (Netherlands Antilles): Queen Emma pontoon bridge - Willemstad - Curacao

This means that the bridge is about to close, and hence that a ship must be on its way. The engine of the bridge is switched on, and it gently sails open. The subsequent sight of a huge ocean cargo ship or a cruise boat sailing through this narrow stretch of water, dwarfing the houses of the town completely, is unforgettable.

Picture of Pontoon Bridge (Netherlands Antilles): Queen Emma pontoon bridge, Willemstad
Picture of Pontoon Bridge (Netherlands Antilles): Queen Emma pontoon bridge - Willemstad - Curacao
Picture of Pontoon Bridge (Netherlands Antilles): Cruise ship in Willemstad passing the pontoon bridge

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