Regional Office for Culture in Latin America and the Caribbean

Portal of Culture of Latin America and the Caribbean

Aruba - Fort Zoutman - Toren Willem III

Colonization of Aruba started after the construction of Fort Zoutman in 1798. The fort was constructed by African slaves (from Curaçao), while Amerindian Arubans provided building materials. After the building’s expansion and reconstruction (1826) and the addition of three prison cells in 1859, Fort Zoutman also functioned as a place of confinement for slaves. In 1868, the Tower Willem III was added to the complex. Fort Zoutman is the most prestigious historic building of Aruba.

Fort Zoutman is located in the centre of Oranjestad. The Fort and Tower Willem III were renovated in the 1970s and 1980s. Fort Zoutman is the most important and oldest historical building on Aruba and is the location of the Historical Museum of Aruba. The Fort hosts the weekly cultural Bon Bini-Festival, for both tourists and locals. The Historical Museum is visited by tourists and locals alike and has recently started educational programs for primary education. The management of Fort Zoutman has been in the hands of the Fundacion Museo Aruba since 1983. It receives aid from several governmental and non governmental organizations such as UNOCA and the Prins Bernhard Foundation. 

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Defense fort with 3 half bastions, app. 30 embrasures. Originally built in 1798, the fort (1137 m2) was reconstructed in 1826. Three prison cells were added in 1859. In 1868, the Tower Willem III (34 m2) was added and since then served as lighthouse, entrance to Fort Zoutman and office space. In the nineteenth century, a kitchen and government buildings were constructed in the open court yard. These buildings served as multi-purpose administration buildings, including police station, court and census office. Complete restoration of both Fort and Tower took place between 1974 and 1983. Since 1983, the Aruba Historical Museum is situated in Fort Zoutman. The office and depot of the National Historical Museum are housed in the Toren Willem III.

Accessibility: Good
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Other data of interest


Historical name

Fort Zoutman - Toren Willem III

Founding Date

1798 – 1826


Centro de Oranjestad / Centre of Oranjestad.

Responsible entity

Historical Museum of Aruba Foundation

Management plan




National monument


Place of confinement

Access level


Current Use

Historical Museum of Aruba

Original use

Military Defense Fort

Property kind


Expressions of intangible heritage associated

Though not specifically or exclusively related to Fort Zoutman, both the historical exposition and the cultural events in Fort Zoutman, portray aspects of African slave history on Aruba. Two of them are the role of slavery in relation to Papiamento as Aruba’s national language and tambú music as a local form of national and traditional expressions or manifestations with African origins.