It was near to Indonesia’s Independence Day celebration which fell on the 17th August, so I was thinking to take photos related to Indonesia’s history. The best part in town to go is to Kota. It is home to many museums and was a witness of the struggle of many nations to hold the control of the nation. It was a gray-sky Sunday morning when I went to Kota around 7 am, thinking that I wouldn’t stay long there as I had been there several times. Which was a shame, I thought. I expected that it would be empty as it was Ramadan, a holy month in which Muslims are abstain from eating and drinking from sunrise till sunset. I was wrong! There were many people. Many of them were holding a camera. They must be either tourists or photographers or photography enthusiasts – like I am.
As this episode of FWPP is Look Back into the Past, I had to read the history of photos I took. Most of the time I found very interesting facts, which I shortly explain here.
The following photos were taken around Jakarta History Museum (a.k.a Museum Fatahillah) and in Kota Tua – Old Town. The building where the Museum was situated was built in 1710 as the Stadhuis -city hall- of Batavia and was the administrative headquarters of the VOC -Dutch East India Company, and later of the Dutch Colonial Government.
This building is located in front of Stadhuisplein, the City Hall Square, which now known as Fatahillah Square –Taman Fatahillah.
From there, I took ojek sepeda -bike taxi, to Sunda Kelapa Port, where I then took a boat to go around the port. Unfortunately this once famous port is now very dirty. I hardly believe that in its time it was one of the busiest port in the archipelago. Today the port only accommodate pinisi, a traditional two masted wooden sailing ship, serving inter-island freight service in the archipelago.
Because I took photos at Sunda Kelapa, I was intrigued to know more about this port. I have always known it was a very important one, but here are some facts that I just found out.
- From 13th to 16th century Sunda Kelapa was the main port of Sunda Kingdom. The port thrived on international spice trade especially pepper. Sunda Kelapa, was one of the few Indonesian ports that maintained ties with Europe.
- In 1522, the Portuguese secured an agreement with Sunda Kingdom to be the port authority.
- in 1527, Fatahillah, on behalf of Demak attacked Portuguese in Sunda Kelapa and succeeded in conquering the harbour on June 22, 1527, after which it was renamed Jayakarta. The port became part of Banten Sultanate.
- In 1619, Jan Pieterszoon Coen, Governor General of the Dutch East India Company, seized the port of Jayakarta from the Sultanate of Banten and razed the city. From the ashes of Jayakarta, the Dutch build a new city, Batavia.
Then my ojek took me to Syah Bandar Tower, which was known as Uitkijk, from where I walked to Museum Bahari – Maritime Museum- nearby. The Museum occupies an old Dutch building built in 1652. The building has 2 parts: Westzijdsche Pakhuizen -west bank storage- andOostzijdsche Pakhuizen-east bank storage. VOC (Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie) used this building to store their various spice commodities, mostly pepper and nutmeg.
Around 11 pm I returned to Fatahillah Square and had planned to go back home until I saw pink shoe flower at Bank Indonesia Museum. So I thought why I didn’t go in as I had never been there. The building of the museum was that of De Javasche Bank, which was nationalized after Indonesia’s independence day. The Museum itself provides interactive displays with touchscreen to explain the history of Bank Indonesia as well as Indonesia’s monetary.
From the explanation at the Museum I know that banking system in Indonesia was brought by VOC to Java in 1746. That time to support their trade, they established De Bank van Leening, which due to unprofessional management went bankrupt. It then was merged with De Bank Courant, thus together they became De Bank Courant en Bank van Leening.
Well well, history had never been my favourite subject at school, but knowing all these old stuff made me proud of my country – could have been more proud should it ran better.