Paramaribo Urban Rehabilitation Program (PURP) is a program created to contribute to the socio-economic revitalization of Paramaribo historic center and the conservation of its built heritage, including the strengthening of the Management Authority and the development of a Tourism Plan.

The specific objectives are:

Paramaribo, Suriname’s capital, has 243,556 inhabitants, or 45 percent of the country’s population. The Historic Center, consisting of a core of 48 hectares and a buffer zone of more than 100 hectares, in 2002 was declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO).

This concentration of historic and cultural heritage buildings and monuments as well as of urban sites has great potential to contribute to the city’s sustainable and equitable development. Yet, the area suffers from physical, social and economic decay, which undermines its potential and poses a threat to its physical assets and its UNESCO Heritage Site designation.


In the second half of 2019 the Ministry of Education Science and Culture of Suriname launched the project with a $20 million loan from the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB). The project is implemented by the Suriname Built Heritage Foundation, which is the designated Management Authority of the UNESCO World Heritage Site, under the overall responsibility of the Ministry of Education, Science and Culture.

The program will renovate the city’s public spaces, rehabilitate heritage buildings, create new housing projects in order to offer renting options to a mixed-income population, and develop new business strategies with private sector participation. The program will also finance the strengthening of the Suriname Built Heritage Foundation and the creation of key planning tools to guide the Historic Center sustainable revitalization process.


Urban Architecture

Paramaribo has a rich collection of urban architecture that reflects the combination of European classicism of the 18th and 19th centuries intermingled with the craftsmanship of the Africans and later Asians who contributed tropicalizing elements to this architecture. Official public architecture would have been designed and constructed according to the formal architectural principles of strict Palladian classicism then fashionable in Europe.

The Historic City Center of Paramaribo is located in the District of Paramaribo, situated on the left bank of the Suriname River, approximately 23 kilometers from the Atlantic Ocean. The Paramaribo District covers an area of around 183 km2, but the Historical City Center has an area of only 48ha (core zone) and adding the current Buffer Zones, around 159ha. The Core Zone is enclosed by: a) Sommelsdijckse Kreek, b) Tourtonnelaan, c) Klipstenenstraat, d) Heiligenweg, e) the Suriname River bank along the Waterfront, f) Fort Zeelandia and surroundings.

The Paramaribo Urban Rehabilitation Program (PURP)

Paramaribo Urban Rehabilitation Program (PURP) is a IDB-financed program created to contribute to the socio-economic revitalization of Paramaribo historic center and the conservation of its built heritage, including the strengthening of the Management Authority and the development of a Tourism Plan.

The specific objectives are:

PURP Mission

The PURP Mission consists of four (4) main components.

This component comprises the design and implementation of strategic urban interventions intended to reverse the physical deterioration of the historic center and trigger a sustainable revitalization process (USD 15 million).

Component 2’s goal is to contribute to the revitalization process by turning the historic center into a lively part of the city attracting new residents and businesses (USD 2.2 million).

Component 3 will establish and strengthen the institutions required to guide the historic center’s revitalization process in a sustainable manner and allow the effective implementation of this program’s activities reinforcement (USD 1.5 million).

The last component will finance the personnel and other recurrent costs required for supporting the program’s administration during its implementation reinforcement (USD 1.3 million).

World Heritage Site

The Historic Inner City of Paramaribo was inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List on the 29th of June 2002 during the 26th session of the World Heritage Committee in Budapest, Hungary.

In June 2002 the World Heritage Committee made the decision to inscribe the Historic Inner City of Paramaribo on UNESCO’s World Heritage List. The decision was based on the cultural criteria (ii) and (iv), as recommended by the ICOMOS report in 2001:

Criterion (a – ii): Paramaribo is an exceptional example of the gradual fusion of European architecture and construction techniques with indigenous South America materials and crafts to create a new architectural idiom.

Criterion (a – iv): Paramaribo is a unique example of the contact between the European culture of the Netherlands and the indigenous cultures and environment of South America in the years of intensive colonization of this region in the 16th and 17th centuries.

World Heritage properties must display Outstanding Universal Value, which is the basis of any nomination. According to UNESCO, “Outstanding Universal Value means cultural and/or natural significance which is so exceptional as to transcend national boundaries and to be of common importance for present and future generations of all humanity. As such, the permanent protection of this heritage is of the highest importance to the international community as a whole.”