PARAMARIBO

Suriname

Paramaribo, often called Par'bo, is the lively capital and only city of the sparsely inhabited country of Suriname. Home to about 250,000 people, or over half of the country's population, this laid-back South American gem lies just 15km from the Atlantic Ocean. It's the country's main harbour, governmental seat and centre for business and learning. Many visitors to Suriname come by here, spending some time to take in the city's pretty UNESCO World Heritage listed colonial centre. Paramaribo leads by example in Surinam's efforts to expand its tourist economy, with a strong focus on eco-friendly travel.

Info Paramaribo

introduction

Paramaribo ( nickname: Par′bo) is the capital and largest city of Suriname, located on the banks of the Suriname River in the Paramaribo District. Paramaribo has a population of roughly 240,000 people (2012 census), almost half of Suriname's population. The historic inner city of Paramaribo has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2002.

These days 48% of the population of Paramaribo is Christian, 14% Hindu, Muslim 9%, 4% have a different religion, 4% have no religion and 21% did not answer this question in the last census.

In two-thirds of the households, Dutch is the most spoken language and in most other households it is spoken as a second language. Other commonly spoken languages are Sranantongo, Sarnami Hindustani and Javanese. About 2% use English as their first language; however English is widely spoken by many inhabitants.

info
POPULATION : 240,924
FOUNDED :  1603
TIME ZONE :  ART (UTC-3)
LANGUAGE : Dutch (official), English (widely spoken)
RELIGION : 
AREA :  182 km2 (70 sq mi)
ELEVATION :  3 m (10 ft)
COORDINATES : 5°52′N 55°10′W
SEX RATIO : Male: 50.12%
 Female: 49.88%
ETHNIC :Creoles (African or African-European descent) 27%, Indian (East Indian descent) 23%, Multiracials 18%, Maroons (descendants of escaped African slaves) 16%, Javanese (Indonesian descent) 10%, Indigenous (descendants of native population) 2%, Chinese (descendants of 19th-century contract workers) 1.5%, and smaller numbers of Europeans 
AREA CODE : 4
POSTAL CODE : 
DIALING CODE : +597 4
WEBSITE : 

Tourism

Paramaribo, often called Par'bo, is the lively capital and only city of the sparsely inhabited country of Suriname. Home to about 250,000 people, or over half of the country's population, this laid-back South American gem lies just 15km from the Atlantic Ocean. It's the country's main harbour, governmental seat and centre for business and learning. Many visitors to Suriname come by here, spending some time to take in the city's pretty UNESCO World Heritage listed colonial centre. Paramaribo leads by example in Surinam's efforts to expand its tourist economy, with a strong focus on eco-friendly travel.

To get a feel of this friendly city, take a pick from the large stacks of fruits at its bustling central market and wander around town to admire its colonial heritage. Then, head to the Waterkant (or water side) to join the locals for Djogo (local beer) and salty fish while gazing at the boats on the Suriname river.

History

The name Paramaribo is probably a corruption of the name of an Indian village, Parmirbo. This was the location of the first Dutch settlement, a trading post established by Nicolaes Baliestel and Dirck Claeszoon van Sanen in 1613. English and French traders also tried to establish settlements in Suriname, including a French post established in 1644 near present day Paramaribo.

The Dutch settlement was abandoned some time before the arrival of English settlers in 1650. The settlers were sent by the English governor of Barbados, Lord Francis Willoughby, 5th Baron Willoughby of Parham, and established a town on the site of Paramaribo (though probably south of the current town center). The town was protected by a fort, called Fort Willoughby. In 1662, Governor Willoughby was granted the settlement and surrounding lands (extending into Suriname’s interior) by King Charles II.

In 1667, during the Second Anglo-Dutch War, Paramaribo was conquered by a squadron of ships under Abraham Crijnssen. The Treaty of Breda in 1667, confirmed Paramaribo as the leading town of the now Dutch colony of Suriname. The fort protecting Paramaribo was renamed Fort Zeelandia in honor of the Dutch province that had financed Crijnssen’s fleet. (The town was also renamed New Middelburg but the name did not catch on with the inhabitants).

The population of Paramaribo has always been very diverse. Among the first British settlers were many Jews and one of the oldest synagogues in the Americas is found in Paramaribo. The population of the town was greatly increased after 1873, when former slaves (who had been freed in 1863) were allowed to stop working for their former masters and leave the sugar plantations.

Paramaribo has remained the capital of Suriname, from its colonial days through theindependence of Suriname in 1975 to the present day. The old town has suffered many devastating fires over the years, notably in January 1821 (which destroyed over 400 buildings) and September 1832 (which destroyed nearly 50 buildings).

In 1987 an administrative reorganization took place in Suriname and the city was divided into 12 administrative jurisdictions.

Climate

Paramaribo has a tropical rainy climate, hot and humid. It has two rainy seasons per year. The long rainy season runs from late April to mid-August. The short rainy season runs from mid-December to mid-February. Usually it does not rain all day but there are heavy tropical showers mainly in the afternoon. The temperature is about 30°C but in the dry period from mid-August to mid-December it can rise to 35-40°C. Humidity is year-round about 80% and can exacerbate temperature extremes. It feels clammy and sticky.

Climate data for Paramaribo

MonthJanFebMarAprMayJunJulAugSepOctNovDecYear
Record high °C (°F)33
(91)
34
(93)
35
(95)
37
(99)
37
(99)
36
(97)
37
(99)
37
(99)
36
(97)
37
(99)
36
(97)
36
(97)
37
(99)
Average high °C (°F)30
(86)
30
(86)
30
(86)
31
(88)
30
(86)
31
(88)
31
(88)
32
(90)
33
(91)
33
(91)
32
(90)
30
(86)
31
(88)
Daily mean °C (°F)26
(79)
26
(79)
26
(79)
27
(81)
27
(81)
27
(81)
27
(81)
27
(81)
28
(82)
28
(82)
27
(81)
26
(79)
27
(81)
Average low °C (°F)22
(72)
22
(72)
22
(72)
22
(72)
23
(73)
22
(72)
22
(72)
23
(73)
23
(73)
23
(73)
23
(73)
22
(72)
22
(72)
Record low °C (°F)17
(63)
17
(63)
17
(63)
18
(64)
19
(66)
20
(68)
20
(68)
15
(59)
21
(70)
20
(68)
21
(70)
18
(64)
15
(59)

Geography

The city is located on the Suriname River, approximately 15 kilometres (9.3 mi) inland from the Atlantic Ocean, in the Paramaribo district.

Economy

Paramaribo is the business and financial centre of Suriname. Even though the capital city does not produce significant goods itself, almost all revenues from the country's main export products gold, oil, bauxite, rice, and tropical wood are channeled through its institutions. All banks, insurance corporations and other financial and commercial companies are headquartered in Paramaribo. Around 75 percent of Suriname's GDP is consumed in Paramaribo.

Tourism is an increasingly important sector, with most visitors coming from the Netherlands.

Subdivisions

Administratively, Paramaribo forms its own district in Suriname. The resorts of Paramaribo district therefore correspond to boroughs of the city. There are twelve resorts in the Paramaribo district:

ResortArea in square kmPopulation densityPopulation (2012)
Blauwgrond43661.331,483
Rainville31930.722,747
Munder141146.417,234
Centrum93252.720,631
Beekhuizen63297.217,185
Weg naar Zee41321.316,037
Welgelegen73387.019,304
Tammenga62385.515,819
Flora43836.519,538
Latour64358.029,526
Pontbuiten63246.223,211
Livorno9931.88,209

Internet, Comunication

The country code for international calls to Suriname is 597. There are no trunk or area codes.

Many hotels and Bed and Breakfasts offer their guests a Wi-Fi connection - mostly for free. The number of internet cafés in the city is declining due to the usage of smart phones and tablets.

  • Main Post OfficeKerkplein 1,  +597 477524. M-Th 07:15-14:00, F 07:15-13:30. The main office of SurPost, the country's postal company, handles anything from postcards and packages and large sea post freight.

Prices in Paramaribo

PRICES LIST - USD

MARKET / SUPERMARKET

Milk1 liter$0.65
Tomatoes1 kg$1.85
Cheese0.5 kg$5.60
Apples1 kg$1.70
Oranges1 kg$1.06
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$0.43
Bottle of Wine1 bottle$4.30
Coca-Cola2 liters$1.40
Bread1 piece$0.65
Water1.5 l$0.35

PRICES LIST - USD

RESTAURANTS

Dinner (Low-range)for 2$8.00
Dinner (Mid-range)for 2$14.00
Dinner (High-range)for 2$
Mac Meal or similar1 meal$3.50
Water0.33 l$0.25
Cappuccino1 cup$0.90
Beer (Imported)0.33 l$0.85
Beer (domestic)0.5 l$0.85
Coca-Cola0.33 l$0.45
Coctail drink1 drink$4.00

PRICES LIST - USD

ENTERTAINMENT

Cinema2 tickets$7.00
Gym1 month$14.00
Men’s Haircut1 haircut$3.25
Theatar2 tickets$14.00
Mobile (prepaid)1 min.$0.24
Pack of Marlboro1 pack$1.90

PRICES LIST - USD

PERSONAL CARE

Antibiotics1 pack$
Tampons32 pieces$2.60
Deodorant50 ml.$2.30
Shampoo400 ml.$2.80
Toilet paper4 rolls$0.75
Toothpaste1 tube$2.20

 

PRICES LIST - USD

CLOTHES / SHOES

Jeans (Levis 501 or similar)1$40.00
Dress summer (Zara, H&M)1$21.00
Sport shoes (Nike, Adidas)1$50.00
Leather shoes1$51.00

PRICES LIST - USD

TRANSPORTATION

Gasoline1 liter$0.64
TaxiStart$
Taxi1 km$
Local Transport1 ticket$0.20

Transportation - Get In

Transportation - Get In

By plane

KLM Royal Dutch Airlines has three weekly direct flights from Amsterdam. Surinam Airways (Surinaamse Luchtvaart Maatschappij) also has three weekly direct flights from Amsterdam. If you are coming from Europe, another alternative is to fly with Air France from Paris to Cayenne (in French Guiana) and travel from there, either by plane or overland.

From the United States, airline service is available from Miami and New York (JFK) viaCaribbean Airlines, which stops in Trinidad and Tobago en route to Suriname. It's also possible to fly with Surinam Airways to and from Miami with a stop in Aruba.

From Brazil, there is a twice a week flight by Suriname Airways from Belém to Paramaribo and vice versa. The flight takes an hour and a half and only drinks are served.

You can change money inside the airport terminal while you wait for your baggage.

From the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, also known as Paramaribo-Zanderij International Airport, into Paramaribo there is a bus running. It takes about an hour. There are also taxis available. The situation outside the airport is a bit chaotic, with many taxi drivers hustling for clients.

In January 2009, a one-way taxi fare to the city centre was SRD100 while the bus would cost SRD45. A transit minibus will take you to any hotel in Paramaribo for SRD40 (€10) however it can happen that the driver waits until all seats are occupied.

Transportation - Get In

By boat

Boat taxis can take you over the Suriname River to the Commewijne district. You can find boat taxis in downtown Paramaribo at the platte brug (between Central Market and Waterkant) to Meerzorg across the Suriname River, or at Leonsberg, North Paramaribo, to take you to New Amsterdam. You can take your bike on these boats.

Transportation - Get In

By Bus

From Georgetown, Guyana, take minibus #63a to Molson Creek in eastern Guyana just across the river from Suriname. The trip takes at least 3 hr and costs c. USD10. From there, you will go through customs on the Guyanese side. Then take the 11:00 daily ferry across the river to the South Drain. The actual ferry ride takes about 30 minutes.
Contact Canawaima ferry, telephone: +597 212331 or +597 212332 for more information.
From there you can get a minibus into Paramaribo. Again the trip takes at least 3 hr and costs c. USD15.

From Georgetown, there are also private companies and minibuses that will cover the cost of the minibus to the river, the ferry, and the cost of the minibus on the other side.

 


Transportation - Get Around

The old colonial centre mostly lies directly behind the Waterkant and most of the main sights, including the fort, the palm garden, colonial officers' houses and the central market are easily explored on foot.

Transportation - Get Around

By car

There are several car hire services based in Paramaribo. Because of its neighbours and the historical accident of the first imported vehicles being from Britain, Suriname drives on the left with steering wheels on the right. (Alternative explanations are that the Netherlands, at the time of its colonisation of Surinam, still drove on the natural left-hand side of the road or that Surinam's first colonial settlement was English.

  • CarsPlusKwattaweg 246,  +597 492020, e-mail: .Good service and cheap. €21 per day inclusive of full insurance.
  • EnterpriseFred Derbystraat 60,  +597 473494, e-mail:. Good and fast service €29 per day inclusive of full insurance.

Transportation - Get Around

By bus

In Suriname, the buses are private. The drivers, however, follow collectively determined routes. The buses are somewhere between private taxis and public transportation and leave the bus station only when they are totally full, meaning there are not specific schedules. If you do see a bus, take note that the buses are hand painted.

A central bus station can found in the Knuffelgracht near the Waterkant.

Transportation - Get Around

By bike

Renting a bike is a good alternative to get around and also to explore the outskirts of town. Keep in mind that you have no shelter from the sun and that you can be surprised by torrential rain. Most drivers take notice of you but if there is little traffic than people often drive too fast.

 

Hotels

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Hotels

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Shopping

Paramaribo is packed with small shops, boutiques and markets stalls, selling anything from Western brand clothing (plus at least as many fake versions) to cheap daily amenities, great hammocks, illegal DVD copies and Chinese jewellery. It remains a fairly cheap place for foreign visitors, which makes shopping for souvenirs a fun way to spend an afternoon.

The Centrale Markt, on the far east side of the Waterkant, is in many ways the beating heart of the city. A colourful range of street stalls and sellers mark the entrance of the covered market area, supposedly the largest one of its kind in the Caribbean. It's a two story market tucked away in a massive warehouse, with stalls selling anything from fresh vegetables and meats (on the ground floor) to t-shirts and hair extensions (on the second floor). A visit to town is hardly complete without a quick visit to this bustling place and if you're not interested in any of their goods, you might be in one of the many tasty snacks for sale. Open for business daily except Sunday, from early morning until 15:00, but coming early is advised. The Flower Market around the Kleine Waterstraat is another colourful experience, and set nicely against a colonial background.

The Maagdenstraat is your best bet when you're interested in Chinese jewellery. Most of the jewellers are specialized in labour-intensive handmade jewels. You can also have your own jewels cleaned, returning the glow they used to have, or have them repaired. These services are typically cheap, but make sure to agree on a price beforehand. On the corner of Maagdenstraat and Steenbakkerijstraat, Ready Tex is a highly popular place for souvenir shopping, with a broad collection including postcards and T-shirts as well as Suriname ceramics and art works. The Domineestraat is another main shopping street, with a number of quality clothing shops, some mobile phone shops and several book stores. You might be approached by souvenir sellers at the Waterkant, with a small selection of necklaces or leather works. Use your negotiation skills to settle for a reasonable price.

For a more modern experience, follow Paramaribo's middle and upper class to the Hermitage MallLalla roohkweg 229. It's the largest mall in the country with about 20 clothing stores, gift shops and a food corner. A mega theatre is currently under construction.

Restaurants

Paramaribo's many restaurants reflect its diverse culture and strong Chinese, Javanese and Hindustan influences. Small food stalls serve inexpensive traditional snacks at the markets and along the Waterkant. If you're looking for Javanese style food, consider driving out to the Blauwgrond area of town. This Javanese part of the city is known for its many small restaurants, typically unpolished places with simple plastic outdoor furniture but great food.

However, for the travel weary visitor there's a Kentucky Fried Chicken around and a few places that cater to the much less spiced Dutch taste. Food is typically cheap by western standards, with full 3 course meals anywhere between SRD25 and SRD60 and simple mains around SRD20. If you follow the locals to smaller places you'll be able to eat for SRD10. Most of the small restaurants are quite casual in style. For a somewhat more formal experience, the upmarket hotels in town usually have their own restaurants, serving both traditional and international cuisine for obviously higher prices.

  • Chi MinCornelis Jongbawstraat 83,  +597 412155. 11:00-23:00. Chinese restaurant specialising in seafood.
  • 't VatKleine Waterstraat 1,  +597 424631. For some reason, this place is especially popular with travellers and the many Dutch trainees staying in town. They cater to Dutch tastes as well, with anything from traditional Suriname Pom sandwiches to burgers and French Fries with Dutch "frikandel" sausages. They also offer a range of services besides the food, including some good mid-range lodging options, car hire and a souvenir shop. SRD25 for their special, 3-course tourist menu.
  • Di GadriZeelandiaweg 1 (Between Fort Zeelandia and the National Assembly), +597 420688. M-F 08:00-22:00 Sa-Su 11:00-22:00. Good Creole meals, soups and snacks. At 08:00, fresh bread rolls are avaialble. It has a nice terrace under a huge mahogany tree. Also popular with parliamentarians. Dishes around SRD20.
  • Joosje Roti ShopZwartenhovenbrugstraat 9+597 472606. M-Sa 08:30-22:00. East Indian restaurant in the centre of town, well known for their chicken roti.
  • Dumpling #1Dr J.F. Nassylaan 1. Famous for their king crab.
  • Fatai RestaurantMaagdenstraat 64+597 473917. Asian food
  • Restaurant JawaKasabaholoweg 7 (uitvlught),  +597 492691, e-mail: . 11:00-22:00. A good choice for travellers on a budget, with tasty Javanese food. from USD5.
  • Liang Langcorner Dr J.F. Nassylaan and F. Derbiestraat. Famous for their 'tjoeng'
  • Mirosso Indonesisch RestaurantJ. Samson Greenstraat 104,  +597 455362. Tu-Th 18:00-24:00. M,F-Sa 18:00-02:00. This is considered one of the better options in Blauwgrond and was granted the Fernand de Rooy Certificate. Service can be on the slow side, but the food is very nice. It gets crowded on weekends, so call ahead if you want to ensure a spot.
  • Pannekoek & Poffertjes Cafevan Sommelsdijckstraat 11,  +597 422914. Pancakes and poffertjes (typical Dutch small, fluffy pancakes)
  • Popeye's Chicken and BiscuitsDomineestraat 39+597 426401. On the first floor of the Krasnapolsky Hotel. Popeye's serves Cajun style fast food.
  • Sun Docorner of Weidestraat and F. Derbiestraat. Serves good dim sum.
  • JiJi's. upscale place at the waterkant with a nice view over the river
  • De WaagWaterkant 5,  474514, e-mail: . upscale place at the waterkant with a decent wine selection but no river view
  • Brotik. Between De Waag and Riverside Kitchen, huge terrace towards the river. Open only for dinner but until late. Serves local dishes; the most affordable of the upscale restaurants at the waterkant.
  • Riverside Kitchen. Next door to Brotik with a huge seating area at the river. The kitchen is open only for lunch. Great local dishes for SRD20 to SRD30. Hangout for locals.

Sights & Landmarks

  • Historical city centre. Paramaribo's distinctive historic city centre, packed with wooden buildings from colonial times, has been inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List since July 2002. It's the planned nature and remarkable architecture that makes this place unique. The spacious, tree-lined street plan was laid out by the first Dutch governor in the 17th century. Most of the current mansions originate from the first half of the 19th century however, as they had to be rebuilt after large city fires in 1821 and 1832. The designs are clearly inspired by Dutch architecture of the time, but incorporated a range of indigenous techniques and used local materials. The Waterkant and Mr.Lim A Postraat have some of the best examples. Many of the wooden houses are in dire need of restoration, however, to the point where UNESCO has urged the state to address the problem and threatened to revoke the city's status.
  • Fort ZeelandiaAbraham Crijnssenweg 1,  +597 425871fax: +597 42 58 81, e-mail: . Tu-F: 09:00-14:00, Su 10:00-14:00. (closed Sa,M). The English laid the first foundations for the current brick fort around 1650, replacing an earlier wooden structure built by the French around an even earlier Dutch trading post. In 1667, Dutch and English forces fought over the fortifications, then called fort Willoughby, and the surrounding lands. The Peace of Breda later that year put the whole of Suriname in Dutch hands, however, when the Dutch preferred to retain Surinam and its Sugar factories rather than swap them for what later became New York and the fort was renamed Zeelandia. Initially used as a colonial stronghold for the Dutch, it later served as an army barrack and a prison. In 1982, Fort Zeelandia was the scene of the so-called December murders, as fifteen prominent Surinamese men who had criticized the then military dictatorship ruling Suriname were tortured here and then shot dead. The events remain controversial today, as the exact circumstances are still unclear, but the current president of Suriname is the main suspect. In 1995 the restored buildings were opened to the public as a museum. The collection of the Suriname Museum covers the different cultures of Suriname, the colonial period, 20th century art, a library collection and a photo archive. There is a café and a restaurant (Baka Foto) with an outdoor terrace in the courtyard. In front of the entrance are historical officers houses. This beautiful area gives you an impression of how the city once was when trees lined the streets. A statue of Queen Wilhelmina is on the waterfront, looking over the Suriname River.
  • Numismatic MuseumMr F.H.R. Lim a Po Straat 7,  +597 520016. M-F 08:00-14:00. Highlight of this small museum is a 1679 copper Parrot coin. You'll probably need to have a real interest in the history of money to fully appreciate the collection on display, but there's no admission fee and walking in for a quick glance can't hurt. The museum is part of the Bank of Suriname, and it's housed in one of the nice colonial building. It hold almost every legal currency used in Suriname since the late 17th century. Free.
  • Onafhankelijkheidsplein (Independence Square) and Presidential Palace. The square is the heart of Paramaribo surrounded by important buildings like the Presidential Palace, Court of Justice, the Parliament. It's used as a place for festivals like Carisfesta XI in 2013. Normally there's not much activity, but on Sundays men exercise the national hobby: letting their caged birds sing.
  • Palmentuin (Palm Gardens) (Behind the presidential palace). The Palm garden, a small park filled with king palms behind the Presidential Palace, was part of the original city plans of Cornelis van Aerssen van Sommelsdijck, the first Dutch governor. He opened the garden for public in 1685, but was murdered only three years later, after which the property was closed again. Not until the early 20th century was the Palm Garden re-opened. In 2009 it was restored with funds from UNESCO. It has a small play ground now, some statues and benches to hang out on, making it a pleasant, shady place on a hot day. Except on holidays, when the place comes to live with food stalls and such, the garden is best avoided after sundown for the lighting is poor and the place attracts less friendly crowds.
  • Paramaribo ZooLetitia Vriesdelaan,  +597 545275, e-mail: . daily 09:00-18:00. Establishing a zoo was an idea of Prime Minister Pengel in the 1960's. Awaiting the actual construction of the zoo, he started collecting animals in his own backyard, until the zoo was opened in 1972. Both the number of animals and (subsequently) of visitors declined over the following decades, however, leaving the zoo in poor state. Starting in 2003 it successfully engaged in a cooperation with Dutch Diergaarde Blijdorp in Rotterdam, which helped raise funds to restore the place. In recent years the zoo has gained popularity again. Its collection of animals includes mostly regional species, among which are many indigenous monkeys, jaguars, caimans, many tropical birds and a petting zoo. There's also a nice playground for kids. SRD10.
  • St. Peter and Paul CathedralHenck Arronstraat 22. 08:00-14:00. This Roman Catholic cathedral is one of the biggest wooden structures on the entire American continent. Building started in 1883 and the church was consecrated only two years later. The towers were not finished before 1901 though, and the characteristic yellow and grey painting of the outside was done only in 1926. The design of the church was inspired by the Redemptorist church in Roosendaal and the (then new) Basilica and Shrine of Our Lady of Perpetual Help in Boston, while the interior, carried out in unpainted cedar wood, was a Surinamese design. Poor restoration efforts were undertaken in the late 1970's, leaving the building in need of new repairs shortly after. Finally, termite damage and severe tilting led to the closure of the cathedral in 1989 for safety reasons. The Vatican provided some funds for initial repairs in the mid 1990's and after fundraising efforts and a large EU grant, thorough restorations were carried out between 2007 and 2010. The cathedral was re-opened for the public in that year. Only the large organ, of which most of the pipes had been stolen, is still a work in progress.
  • The Central MarketWaterkant. 05:00-17:00. A large market with over 3,000 stalls inside a hall at the Waterkant. It's a colourful, buzzing place with smells and sounds to perceive deficit. They offer fresh fish (delivered directly by fishermen), vegetables, fruit and meat. On the first floor are non-perishables sold as clothes, shoes, kitchen utensils and more. Many market vendors, especially the Maroon people, strongly object to having their pictures taken.
  • The Jewish community in Paramaribo is reputed to be the oldest continuing Jewish community in the Americas and the current wooden Neve Shalom (Hebrew: בית הכנסת נווה שלום‎; literally "Oasis of Peace" or "Valley of Peace") synagogue dates from 1835 and replaced the building constructed in 1719 by Ashkenazi Jews. The original Jewish settlers were descendants of Jews fleeing persecution by the Spanish Inquisition in Holland, Portugal and Italy and came here via Brazil. Just one of the unique features of this Synagogue is its floor of sand rather than boards or tiles. This floor is supposed to be both a reminder of the 40 years in the desert that the Hebrews were forced to endure after their exodus from Egypt, and the times that marranos had to muffle their prayers and footsteps with sand so as not to be discovered by the Inquisition and put to death. There are several beautiful Torahs that are hundreds of years old and the carved woodwork exhibits fine craftsmanship.

Things to do

  • Stroll through the historic centre with its old wooden houses.
  • Walk to the Keizerstraat where a mosque and a synagogue are built adjacent to each other. Not far from this place are also a Catholic church and a Hindu temple.
  • Visit Waterkant, share a djogo (1 litre) Parbo, the national beer, and enjoy the sunset.
  • Visit the flea market on Sunday and the daily lively Central Market.
  • Visit the flower expo at the Letitia Vriesdelaan which is scheduled every other Sunday. They sell different type of orchids, cacti, and other plants.
  • In the north of Paramaribo is the Blauwgrondquarter. On this former plantation live Javanese people. Sit down at a warung (Javanese for small restaurant or shop) and try one of the lovely dishes.
  • Bike or take a taxi to Weg naar Zee (Road to the Sea) which is a Hindustani open air cremation site north of the Kwattaweg. You're permitted to attend a ceremony. Nearby is a pilgrimage sanctuary.
  • Thalia theater (Surinamese theater company), Dr. J.F. Nassylaan 4,  +597 472812. The Suriname theater company was founded in 1837 and is the oldest theater company of the Caribbean. The Thalia theater building was opened in 1840, but after its 2011 renovation it now seats 500.

Festivals and events

  • Carnival (Feb) - Colourful carnival parades.
  • Avondvierdaagse (Apr) - Walking and dancing four days long in the streets of Paramaribo. The event starts at 17:00. The route varies and holds a different surprise every day. It meanders through the various neighbourhoods, each with its own characteristics.
  • Suripop (National Song Contest) - This festival for Surinamese songwriters is held every two (even) years.
  • Divali - This Hindu festival of light is a national day in Suriname since 2010
  • Jaran Kepang - Jaran Kepang is a traditional Javanese dance accompanied by gamelan music. This spectacular folk-dance is very popular in Suriname.
  • Winti Pré - This Creole worship is a dance ritual for gods and ghosts.
  • Jaarbeurs (Nov) - This annual trading fair lasts a week and is held on the KKF-Beursterrein (Professor W.J. Kernkampweg) 17:00-23:00.
  • Bodo (End of the Javanese fasting period) - Bodo is the Javanese name of the Eid al-Fitr (Sugar Feast) festival in Suriname.
  • Owru Jari (New Year celebration) - Three days of festival to celebrate the old and new years with lots of fireworks.

Nightlife

On the Waterkant, between the street and the river, are a number of pavilions with simple, but atmospheric, terraces. There's no service and you have to get your drinks yourself. Music is everywhere and while adults pour out a djogo in cups, children play between the tables and teens hang out near the quay wall. There's always something happening on the Waterkant. Just next to the pavilions are 3 more upscale restaurants (JiJi, De Waag and Brotik - see the "Eat" section above) with good bars, followed by a 24/7 bar that also has a nice terrace that overlooks the river.

  • Club Touche (Corner Dr. Sophie Redmond - A. L. Waaldijkstraat), +597 401181, e-mail: . Every day
  • Margaritas PoolcaféKleine Dwarsstraat 3,  +597 7194500. Every day. Pool billiards, cocktails, has a terrace.
  • StarzzKleine Waterstraat 5-7,  +597 474967, e-mail: . W,F-Sa 23:00-?. Starrz Disco is one of Parbo's coolest dance venues with a good blend of DJs playing a variety of sounds
  • ToraricaMr. L.J. Rietbergplein 1+597 471500, e-mail: . daily. Torarica is for all kind of activities. Dancing and casino at night, B&B and swimming at the pool, entertainment.

Suriname - Travel guide

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