Oranjestad (English, literally "Orangetown") is the capital and most important city of Aruba located on the southern coast near the western end of the island. In the local language, Papiamento, Oranjestad is often referred to simply as "Playa".
The town was built around Fort Zoutman shortly after it was built in 1796 . Initially the town had no official name, being known only as the town on the Bay of Horses (Paardenbaai in Dutch) - a fitting designation for the place from which many native-bred and raised horses left for neighboring Curaçao. The town has ever since been the capital city of the island. The fort is still one of the town's attractions, others being the tax-free harbour and the Willem III Tower, located near the fort.
The city is named after the first King Willem van Oranje-Nassau (William of Orange-Nassau) - the first heir to the Dutch House of Orange. The name was conferred on the city in the 1820s when interest in Aruba increased due to the discovery of (alluvial) gold deposits.
Small portions of the city are formed from a series of man-made expansions of land into the sea. Present-day Renaissance Marketplace (formerly Seaport Marketplace), as well as the adjacent Queen Wilhelmina Park, lies within part of this expansion.
Dutch colonial architecture is less visible than on the neighbouring island of Curaçao, but several modern recreations have emerged, including the outdoor shopping mall at Royal Plaza, and a few scattered buildings along Main Street and on the Main Square. Due to increased government interest in maintaining the island's cultural heritage, a number of old buildings and houses in the center of town have been transformed into colorfully restored landmarks, such as the lime-colored Civil Registry on Wilhelminastraat.