History of Jakarta
Jakarta, the capital of the nation, has a fascinating
history. Lots of different aspects have colored the city history
and the life of people today. Since the fifth century, ships from
China and Champa (Vietnam), and from all islands in the archipelago
docked at the mouth of the Ciliwung River. Indian and Portuguese
traders also visited this small town. Javanese sailors, carrying
spices from Molucca, were also docked there. Nearly all people from
the East and West left their trails to blend special flavor of Jakarta.
During centuries later, the city port grew into a bustling international
trade center. At that time, between 17th and early 18 centuries,
ships could sail further up to the river Ciliwung. Towards the south
of this drawbridge, the once busy harbor town of Sunda Kelapa stretched
along both sides of the river between the 12th century and 15th
Sunda Kalapa was the main port of the Hindu Kingdom
of Sunda. The capital of the Pakuan Pajajaran kingdom was located
two days journey upriver, now known as Bogor. Ships often visited
this port from Palembang, Tanjungpura, Malacca, Maccasar and Madura,
and even by merchants from India and South China. Sunda Kelapa exported,
among other items, pepper, rice and gold.
In 1513 the first European fleet, four Portuguese
ships under the command of Alvin, arrived in Sunda Kelapa from Malacca.
Malacca had been conquered two years earlier by Alfonso d' Albuquerque.
They were looking for spices, especially pepper, to this busy and
well-organized harbor. Some years later, the Portuguese Enrique
Leme visited Kalapa with presents for the King of Sunda. He was
well received and on August 21, 1522 signed a treaty of friendship
between the kingdom of Sunda and Portugal. The Portuguese received
the right to build a go down (warehouse) and to erect a fort in
Kalapa. This was regarded by the Sundanese as a consolidation of
their position against the encroaching Muslim troops from the rising
power of the Sultanate of Demak in Central Java.
To commemorate this treaty, they put big stone,
called a Padrao, which vanished for some years. This stone was uncovered
later in 1918 during an excavation for a new house in Kota area
on the corner of Cengkeh Street and Nelayan Timur Street. This Padrao
can now be seen in the National Museum on Medan Merdeka Barat Street.
The original location of the stone suggests that the coastline in
the early 16th century formed a nearly straight line, which is marked
by the present of Nelayan Street, some 400 meters south to the Lookout
Tower. The King of Sunda had his own reasons for great danger from
the expansive Muslim Kingdom of Demak, whose troops threatened his
second harbor town, Banten (west of Jakarta). Sunda felt squeezed
and was in need of strong friends. Thus, the king hoped the Portuguese
would return quickly and help him protect his important harbor.
But they came too late. For in 1527 the Muslim leader Fatahillah
appeared before Kalapa with 1,452 soldiers from Cirebon and Demak.
According to some historians, this victory of 1527
provided the reason for Fatahillah to rename Sunda Kelapa, Jayakarta,
which means "Great Deed" or "Complete Victory."
On the basis of this victory, Jakarta celebrates its birthday on
June 22, 1527; the day Fatahillah gave the town a name of victory
of over Sundanese Hindus and Portuguese sailor. Prince Jayawikarta,
a follower of the Sultan of Banten, resided on the west banks of
Ciliwung river, which in the early 17th century reached the roughly
at our starting place, the Lookout at Pasar Ikan. He erected a military
post there in order to control the mouth of the river and the Dutch
who had been granted permission in 1610 to build a wooden go down
and some houses just opposite there on the east bank. Dutch ships
had already come to Jayakarta in 1596. The Prince tried to keep
a close eye on these unruly guests.
To keep its strength equal to that of the Dutch,
Prince Jayawikarta allowed the British to erect houses on the West
Bank of Ciliwung River, across the Dutch go down, in 1615. The Prince
granted permission to the British to erect a fort closed to his
Customs Office post. Jayawikarta was in support of the British because
his palace was under the threat of the Dutch cannons. In December
1618, the tense relationship between Prince Jayawikarta and the
Dutch escalated. Jayawikarta soldiers besieged the Dutch fortress
that covered two strong go down, namely Nassau and Mauritus. The
British fleet made up of 15 ships arrived. The fleet was under the
leadership of Sir Thomas Dale, former governor of the Colony of
Virginia, now known as Virginia State in the United States.
The British admiral was already old and was indecisive.
After the sea battle, the newly appointed Dutch governor Jan Pieter
Soon Coon (1618) escaped to Molucca to seek support. Meanwhile,
the commander of the Dutch army was arrested when the negotiation
was underway because Jayawikarta felt that the Dutch deceived him.
Then, the Prince Jayawikarta and the British entered into a friendship
The Dutch army was about to surrender to the British
when in 1619, a sultan from Banten sent soldiers and summoned Prince
Jayawikarta for establishing closed relationship with the British
without first asking an approval from Banten authorities. The conflict
between Banten and Prince Jayawikarta as well as the tensed relationship
between Banten and the British had weakened the Dutch enemy. Prince
Jayawikarta was moved to Tanara and died in Banten. The Dutch felt
relieved and tried to establish a closer relationship with the Banten.
The Dutch fortress garrison, along with hired soldiers from Japan,
Germany, Scotia, Denmark, and Belgium held a party in commemoration
of the change in situation. They name their fortress after Batavia
to recollect the ethnic group Batavier, the Dutch ancestor. Since
then Jayakarta was called Batavia for more than 300 years.
Under the relationship of J.P Coen, Dutch army
attacked and destroyed the city and Jayakarta Palace on May 30,
1619. There were no remains of Jakarta except for the Padrao stone
now stored at the National Museum in Jakarta. The Jayakarta grave
was possibly located in Pulau Gadung. If we stand on top of Menara
Syahbandar and look around, we can enjoy the beautiful panorama
in the oldest area of Batavia. Certainly, we can't enjoy the remains
of the city Sunda Kelapa or Jayakarta. Kasteel or the Dutch fortress,
too, has been destroyed. Here we can see several remains from the
mid-17th century. Nearly all of the remains are related to trade
Syahbandar Tower was built 1839 to replace the
old flagpole in ship dock located right on the side across a river.
From the pole and later the tower, officials observed ships about
to anchor gave signals. The tower then is used a meteorology post.
To the West of the Lookout Tower, we can see the view of the present
Bahari Museum. The museum represents a very old and strong edifice
with Dutch architecture. The museum also provides several maps of
the city, with stages of the city development shown. The museum
is part of something in Dutch called Westzijdsche Pakhuizen (Warehouse
on the West bank. Here nutmegs, pepper, coffee, tea, and cloth in
a large scale were used to be stored.
The area around Syahbandar Tower was once the center
of Kota Batavia. It was the center of a trading network with wide
spread agents reaching Deshima (Nagasaki) in Japan, Surate in Persia
and Cape town in South Africa. Inter-trade among Asia was more profitable
than inter-trade between Asia and Europe. And the Pasar Ikan (Market
Fish) once was the pulse. Here, the site where the origin of the
capital of Indonesia, Jakarta, came from.