A journey through Suriname, after the initial introduction at the Johan Adolf Pengel International Airport, often begins in the capital city of Paramaribo. A city with a fascinating diversity of cultures, languages, Architecture & local food coming from a mix created by bringing together Natives, Africans, Indians, Indonesians, Chinese & Lebanese.
Book a city tour of Paramaribo and learn about the history of the various traditional buildings; in Paramaribo, every wall has a special story.
The city, as Paramaribo is called by locals, is located on the west bank of the Suriname River and borders the districts of Commewijne, Wanica, and Saramacca. It is the smallest district by area but with the largest population. Yet it does not feel overcrowded. The city gets its name from the village of Parmurbo of the country’s first inhabitants, the natives. The village was located exactly where Fort Zeelandia was built by European settlers in 1667.
Fort Zeelandia is a brick building with many ornaments from colonial times and is the oldest building in Suriname. It now houses the Suriname Museum. There are other musea in Paramaribo, but especially the Koto Museum and the Lalla Rookh Museum are definitely recommended. Do ask about the specific opening hours before stopping by.
From Fort Zeelandia, the city continued to expand in its current form, with the former Governor’s House in the center. After independence in 1975, this building was renamed the Presidential Palace. The palace overlooks Independence Square and at the back is the Palm Garden.
In the center of Paramaribo, on Henck Arronstraat, stands the impressive Sint Petrus & Paulus Cathedral Basilica, built entirely of wood. Constructed in 1883 on the site where a Jewish theater first stood, the basilica is the largest wooden structure in the Western Hemisphere.
Another attraction and expression of the peace-loving spirit we cherish is a Jewish synagogue and a mosque that stands right next to each other on Keizerstraat and are aligned with each other on each other’s high days.
A tour of the historic downtown can be done on foot or by bicycle. For more information on what to do in Paramaribo, visit the Tourist Information Center at Wakapasi near the entertainment center.
In the van Sommelsdijckstraat, also in the entertainment center, you will find a range of cozy bars and restaurants serving a variety of dishes. From typical Surinamese food to Turkish meals, and from Japanese sushi to Italian pizza.