It certainly is a unique opportunity to be standing in the oldest building in Oranjestad. Once inside Fort Zoutman, you’re bound to feel the history seeping through the walls while enjoying the historic collection of documents and developments from the past.
The Fort Zoutman Historical Museum is where many of our guests get their first exposures to Aruba’s past. Each Tuesday night everyone is invited to the fort for our island’s Welcome Party or as we call it, the Bon Bini Festival from 6:30 – 8:30 pm celebrating the island’s culture and history.
Centuries ago, when settlement was permitted by the Dutch, Paarden Baai (Horses Bay) in Oranjestad became an intermediate harbor for trade between Curaçao and Venezuela. For protection against pirates and enemies, Fort Zoutman was built in 1798. The fort, named after Dutch Rear Admiral Johan Arnold Zoutman who never stepped foot on Aruba but defeated the English in the North Sea, did ward off an English attack in 1799. The Willem III Tower was built in 1868 and first lit on King Willem III’s birthday; it served as both a lighthouse and public clock tower. After 95 years, the light in the tower was extinguished in 1963.
Over the years, it has housed government office, a police station, jail, tax office, courtroom, library and post office. Today, the restored fort and tower house the Historical Museum, opened in 1984. It is a proud symbol of Aruba’s national heritage and frequently visited by schools, tourists and locals.
Open from 8:30 am – 4:00 pm, Monday through Friday, and after hours or on weekends upon special request for groups.