Friday, October 7, 2011


unda Kalapa was the main port of the Hindu Kingdom of Sunda . The capital of the Pakuan Pajajaran kingdom was located two day journey upriver, now known as Bogor. This port was often visited by ships 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 Mallaca. Mallaca 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 and signed a treaty of friendship between the kingdom of Sunda and Portugal. The Portuguese received the right to build a godown (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 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.

On 30th March, 1619, under the leadership of Jan Pieterszoon Coen, VOC Holland troop took away Sunda Kelapa from Demak and changed the name to Batavia.

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 and sailing.

Menara Syahbandar was built 1839 to replace the old flag pole 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 Museum Bahari. 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 Westbank). Here nutmegs, pepper. coffee, tea, and cloth in a large scale were used to be stored.

The areas around Menara Syahbandar 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 Capetown 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.

In 1942, Japan took away Batavia from Holland and changed the name to Jakarta.

In 1945 Indonesia became a freenation, however Holland was still trying to dominate back Indonesia. During the existence of Holland in Indonesia the name of Jakarta harbor stayed still.

On 6th March 1974, based on the governor of DKI Jakarta’s decision, the name of Sunda Kelapa Harbor being used again as the name of the harbor.

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