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Landmarks in Aruba

Seventy square miles of Aruba landmarks and natural sights make for an interesting vacation

Photo credit: © Arubahost | Dreamstime.com
 

For such a small island, Aruba has a diverse offering of sites that must be seen.  Whether your interests lie in the arts, cultural or military history, or architecture; Aruba’s landmarks aid in making a vacation on the island an unforgettable experience.  When you’ve run all out of landmarks, there are even more natural attractions to pique your interests.

History and the Arts

National Archaeological Museum Aruba features Arawak artifacts collected from around the island. Visiting this museum is a great way to get a taste of Aruban {% link_to page 69966 using "history" %}; the collection features bowls, pottery, utensils, and mummified remains from different time periods. Additionally, the Museo Historico Arubano contains relics and displays on the historical connection between Aruba and the Netherlands along with displays on Aruba's independent national history.

The Museo Historico is located at Fort Zoutman, a well-known Aruba landmark and the oldest structure on the island. The fort is named after a Dutch admiral who defeated the British during the struggle for imperial power in the Caribbean. In addition to the museum, there are many craft shops at the Fort. On Tuesdays, the Bon Bini Festival is a great place to shop for Aruban arts and crafts.

Aruba's main artistic venue is the Cas di Cultura, which showcases a wide variety of artistic talents. The Cas features local and international performers in wide variety of folklore, music, and dance performances. Here, one can attend a rock show or a ballet, possibly in the same evening.

Some of Aruba's museums and historical attractions include:

Museums
Name Phone Location
Aruba Aloe Balm Museum (297) 588-3222 Oranjestad
Aruba Model Train Museum (297) 584-7321 San Nicolas
Aruba Numismatic Museum (297) 582-8831 Oranjestad
Museo Historico Arubano (297) 582-6099 Downtown Oranjestad
National Archaeological Museum Aruba (297) 582-8879 Downtown Oranjestad
San Nicolas Community Museum -- 10.8 mi. (17.4 km) Southeast of Oranjestad
Historical Sites
Name Phone Location
Balashi Gold Mill Ruins -- 5.2 mi. (8.4 km) Southeast of Oranjestad
Bushiribana -- Bushiribana
Fort Zoutman -- Downtown Oranjestad

Lighthouses

Lighthouses have played an important role in keeping Aruba’s sailors safe over the years.  Sending a bright light out into the darkness every night, a properly placed lighthouse can warn a sailor that land is near, and also help guide them to shore on night when the sky is too dark to offer any glow.  Today, lighthouses are a part of Aruba's landscape that tourists often add to their list of sites to see. 

The Seroe Colorado Lighthouse is a favorite because of its unique architecture.  Unlike the tower shaped lighthouses that most are accustomed to, this one is a square cage set atop a towered perch on the south coast of the island.  Despite its favored status, the landmark is often deserted, and signs warn of the dangerous surf below.  The other lighthouse on the island often visited by tourists is the California Lighthouse that was designed in 1910 by a French architect, built between 1914 on Aruba's northwest tip, and named for the S.S. California, which sunk near the shore at the end of the 19th century.  It stands 180 feet high.

Lighthouses
Name Location
California Lighthouse 3.1 mi. (5.0 km) North of Palm Beach
Seroe Colorado Lighthouse 13.6 mi. (21.8 km) Southeast of Oranjestad

Church History and Architecture

Art, architecture, and religious history combine in Aruba's churches. Built in 1952, The Alto Vista Chapel marks the site of the first Aruban Catholic Church, originally built by Spanish missionaries in 1750. On the way to the Alto Vista, you may pass by the gold mining ruins at Balashi. Other Aruba landmarks include St. Anna Catholic Church, well-known for its beautiful 1870 hand-carved wooden altar. Lourdes Grotto is a religious shrine that was built to honor the Virgin Mary, who is said to have appeared to children at this spot in 1858. The grotto, which is quite small but beautifully built, is usually overflowing with flowers, candles, and incense offered in worship to the Virgin.

Nature Sites

From caverns to rock formations, natural wonders abound on Aruba. The island devotes a great amount of money to natural preservation in the form of parks. Wilhelmina Park is a shady grove area with public benches and lots of space for picnicking and enjoying the scenery. The Bubali Bird Sanctuary is home to hundreds of local and migratory birds.

The California White Sand Dunes is a flat area of land covered in bright white sand dunes and small green tufts of vegetation. The aforementioned California Lighthouse is located here and locals and tourists alike gather to watch the natural display at sunset.

The Casibari rock formations are one of the island's most peculiar sights. Boulders seem to be randomly strewn across the area, with no real explanation for their position. Larger boulders have stairs built onto them so you can climb up and view the surrounding areas. A gift and food shop is available on the site.

The Guadirikiri Caves are part of the Arikok National Park and are home to preserved Arawak petroglyphs. The Fontein Caves also feature such preserved drawings, and both caves have gorgeous natural formations. Another cave, called the Tunnel of Love, allows visitors to get down and dirty with nature, and is not meant for the weak of heart. Extending mostly underground, the Tunnel of Love is a fascinating Aruba landmark, unless you happen to be claustrophobic.

Full of great sites both above and below ground, Aruba has a little something for unique for every type interest.  This is one location where the whole family can find something interesting and enjoyable as they explore.

 

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