The Endangered Cultural Heritage Of Suriname

28 Dec


Popular sites of the world heritage are for example in Mexico (Chichin Itza), US, Egypt, China, Peru, India, Brazil, Australia, France, Spain (click here to view the table of world heritage sites by country).  Suriname has for so far only one cultural site on the World Heritage list: the inner city of Paramaribo. Beside the inner city, the  Central Suriname Nature Reserve which is know for its high diversity of plant life and animals  was created in 1998 by Conservation International and the Surinamese government, was placed on the UNESCO’s World Heritage list in 2000 for its pristine tropical rainforest ecosystem.  Last year, Jewish Savanna is also nominated for the World Heritage List.  In 2002 the historic inner city was added to the World Heritage List.

David Shaftel of  New York Times said that Paramaribo is full of surprises. “The buildings might appear to be out of place in this drowsy tropical South American capital, with its cultural ties to the West Indies. The key to the puzzle, may lie in the country’s colonial experience, which only ended some 35 years ago (read more about Paramaribo’s history here).”

The unique feature of the historic inner city of Paramaribo is the simplicity and uniformity of its very symmetrical architecture. This is the result of building with wood, the most prominent natural, local product, in a relatively isolated area. It is not an architecture of renowned architects, but one of craftsmen. These builders had no other architecturally interesting cities in the area where they could pick up new ideas. That is why there are so few grand building monuments in Paramaribo. That is not such a pity, the unique characteristic of the city actually is the unity that is shaped by rhythm of the simple buildings ( read more on city of”


The inner city is mainly built in wooden buildings and most of them have a brick foundation on  top.  Other architectural characteristics in Suriname are the dormers, the ridge of which is on the same level as the main ridge of the building. The facades of the dormers lie in the plane of the main facade and almost always have two windows, sometimes with a semicircular window above them. Balconies are regular features in the Surinamese buildings.

I can’t imagine the inner city of Paramaribo without its historical, white and green colored wooden buildings. recently, the government made an announcement about a new construction project, called the Riverside Harbour project, at the the well visited Waterkant (Riverside).  A controversy aroused about this all.  According to several architects, the inner city of Paramaribo will be withdrawn from the World Heritage list if this project will be continued.  Waterkant is located on and around the central place of the cultural heritage of Paramaribo’s downtown. So, the realization of this project will be a threat for the historical/ listed buildings.


Apart from this problem, the inner city is facing another problem: the rise of several concrete buildings. These buildings simply don’t fit into the historic environment. if this continues, there will be after 20 years nothing left of our cultural heritage and past. Recently, a monumental building at the Zwartenhovenbrugstraat demolished by a well known entrepreneur who is also a politician. He was repeatedly warned by the judiciary, but he continued his activities. A lawsuit is waiting for him, but I’m afraid that due his access to political powers, a little will be done. Or nothing. There is a heritage preservation released, but as public officials do not comply, you can not expect much from the people. We live in society where we like to blame. But if the individual’s own behavior does not change and we continue to wait for each other, we shall remain continue to protect and improve without any results. So it is important not to wait for each other, but simply take the first step.


links: Historic Inner City of Paramaibo


world heritage site/ Paramribo

city of paramaribo


NOTE: None of this published images may be used without the permission of the author. Please contact by sending a message through WordPress.


11 Responses to “The Endangered Cultural Heritage Of Suriname”

  1. chiquita 17/01/2010 at 12:35 #

    Je bent wonderbaarlijk.Prachtig hoor!!!!!!!!!!Dat je op alle facetten nog meer mag groeien,nog de beste wensen!!!!

    • fotovita 18/01/2010 at 14:35 #

      Dankjewel, Chiquita. Het is naar mijn gevoel nog steeds niet wat het wezen moet. Ben jij Elisa?

  2. VIKAS | 17/01/2010 at 16:38 #

    These are great images; no wonder it is the UNESCO world heritage list!

    P.S.: Thanks for the visit and comment on my blog. I wonder why your about page also leads to the main blog contents!

  3. Will 29/01/2010 at 01:55 #

    Hi there,

    I really enjoyed your post about the state of the Surinamese UNESCO world heritage building, the new architectural plans by the govt. and the possible effects on traditional historic piece. Very well written and excellent illustrations. Could easily imagine it in print.

    Thanks also for the comment on my blog. Hope you manage to get your tripod fixed soon, it’s an essential piece of kit.

    Take care.


  4. Nita 17/03/2010 at 21:02 #

    Wowww…echt heel mooi…..Wat een mooie plaatje van ons sweet sranang. Love it 2 c this pictures….


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