Fort New Amsterdam
Fort New Amsterdam was built between 1734 and 1747, after the French under Cassard directly attacked the plantations instead of Fort Zeelandia and the city of Paramaribo. The Geoctroyeerde Sociëteit van Suriname decided to protect both the plantations and the city by constructing a fort at the strategically important confluence of the Suriname and Commewijne rivers, which lies rather close to the ocean. The capital and the important plantations of the colony were situated along the upper reaches of these rivers.
The fortress is a large earthen pentagon with bastions at the five corners. On the premises different buildings were erected, many of which did not survive the wear and tear of time. The brick buildings which still stand never really met the demands. The gunpowder storehouses for instance proved to be too damp for the storage of gunpowder, the result of the ignorance of Dutch experts concerning local climate conditions.
Although the fortress was used by the Americans during WWII to protect the bauxite industry (needed for the aluminum for combat planes) it did not function well in the far past: twice the English conquered it without much struggle.
In the course of the 19th century the significance as a defense structure decreased. In 1872 parts of the barracks were reconstructed to become a prison, a function they kept till 1982. In 1907 the fortress became the administrative centre of the Commewijne district, thus definitely being stripped of its military function.
A walk through the premises brings one past different loose elements that stand lost in the area. The building styles of the constructions are quite different from each other.
Behind a gate, left of the main entrance, one finds the commander’s residence and the former prisons. Some of the prison cells are exhibition rooms nowadays.
Commander's residence to the left, prisons to the right, a reception area in front
On both sides of this walled area there are two stone water tanks, dating from 1740.
There are two gunpowder storage buildings on the premises. The 1749 building apparently did not meet the requirements and after the second powder house was built it was assigned to become an artillery research centre.
The 1778 powder house still is in its authentic state. It stands in the middle of a pool and is constructed out of thick brick wall with buttresses that support a vault. The purlins of the roof lie directly on top of this vault. The steps of the building has a smart rounded design. The wall anchors in the front are forged into the date 1778.
Gunpowder storage buildings 1740, 1778 front and 1778 rear
In the coach-house there are some coaches from the beginning of the 19th century. The black one was use for the poor, the rich would ride to their graves in the white one.
The plantation house was built in 1986 after an original model and was thoroughly renovated in 2009. It now serves as a reception building annex conference hall.
On the grounds there are different canons and mortars that have been used at the fort over the years.
Conference hall Canons and mortars, kappa (pan to cook sugarcane juice)