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Landhuis Jan Kok and the Nena Sanchez Gallery

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When the plantation house of Jan Kok was in operation, it was a place of cruelty, where hundreds of enslaved men and women were put to hard labor. But time mellows everything, and that apparently goes for Curaçao’s landhuizen, as well. Today, the Jan Kok is home to the colorful work of native Curaçaoan artist Nena Sanchez.

Jon Kok Nena Sanchez

Originally constructed in 1704, the Landhuis Jan Kok was rebuilt completely in 1840 after a fire. It sits atop a hill, commanding an excellent view over the region, including the flamingo reservation of Sint-Marie and nearby Sint Willibrodrus. This plantation was mostly dedicated to salt, and once had over a hundred slaves. Jan Kok himself had a reputation as one of the island’s more vicious slave-owners, and there’s a legend that his malevolent spirit still haunts the premises.

Jon Kok Nena Sanchez

However, the plantation house is safe today. In the presence of Nena Sanchez’s exuberant artwork, not even the worst of demons could maintain their malevolence for long. Born in Curaçao, Nena has had a whirlwind life. In 1966, she was named Miss Curaçao, and went on to compete in the Miss Universe pageant. Afterwards, she lived all around the world, including stints in Asia, Europe and South America. But she eventually returned to her homeland and dedicated herself to painting: her lifelong passion.

With its painted buildings, clear blue sky and shimmering Caribbean waters, Curaçao is a colorful place, and Nena’s artwork seems to transfer the island’s hues directly onto canvas. Her pieces are spread throughout the Landhuis Jan Kok, and even spill out into the garden, which she has turned into a beautiful open-air gallery.

The Landhuis Jan Kok is certainly worth a stop, perhaps after having seen the nearby flamingo sanctuary. Entry is free, although you might find yourself unable to opening your wallet for one of Nena Sanchez’s Caribbean prints.

Location on our Map

Framed Curacao Photos

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December 28, 2015 at 8:40 pm Comments (2)

Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos

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Sint Willibrodrus sits along the edge of the Jan Kok Bay, on the western coast of Curaçao. It’s a small town, but one with big ambitions. As you approach, it’s impossible to miss the “Williwood” sign on a hill in the distance. Actually, you might miss it, if your attention has been captured by all of the flamingos.

Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos

Just before entering Sint Willibrodrus, you’ll see the old saliñas of Rif-Sint Marie, a former salt mining plantation. The plantation is now in ruins, and its former grounds have been designated as a protected habitat for flamingos. It’s almost a sure bet that you’ll spot some here; hundreds of flamingos live on Curaçao year-round.

Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos

Sint Willibrodrus is a quiet town of a few hundred people. We drove through a couple times, on the way to Daaibooi Beach, and rarely saw a soul. Given the small population, you might be surprised by the size of its Roman Catholic church, built in the 1880s. Painted a deep yellow and set upon the highest point in town, it’s visible for miles around, and looks like it could comfortably fit the rest of Sint Willibrodrus within its walls.

Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos

You can’t drive through Sint Willibrodrus without stopping at Williwood, the popular toko responsible for the Hollywood-esque sign at the town’s entrance. Toko is a Papiamento term meaning “mini-market,” but Williwood is also a popular restaurant and bar, with a popular barbecue party on Sunday evenings.

Locations on our Map: Rif-Sint Marie (Flamingos) | Church of Sint Willibrodrus | Williwood

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Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
Sint Willibrodrus and its Flamingos
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December 28, 2015 at 1:47 pm Comments (0)
Landhuis Jan Kok and the Nena Sanchez Gallery When the plantation house of Jan Kok was in operation, it was a place of cruelty, where hundreds of enslaved men and women were put to hard labor. But time mellows everything, and that apparently goes for Curaçao's landhuizen, as well. Today, the Jan Kok is home to the colorful work of native Curaçaoan artist Nena Sanchez.
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