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Notes on the Geography of Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC

In 1610, almost a century after the Portuguese arrival in 1522, the Dutch were allowed to build a warehouse at Jayakarta. Within a decade, they took control of the place, renamed it Batavia after the Bataven--a proto-Dutch tribe who beat the Romans in the first century--and established it as the head of their East Indian empire. That empire was ruled by the United East Indies Company (the Verenigde Oost-Indische Compagnie, or VOC) from its establishment in 1602 until its bankruptcy in 1799. From then until 1949, the Dutch crown ruled. The name Batavia survived until 1942 or 1943, when the Japanese took over and restored the older name Jayakarta in a slightly revised form.

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Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 1

This picture was taken near the schooners shown in the previous chapter and looks south toward a Dutch lookout tower. The Pasar Ikan or covered fish market is on the right.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 2

The Uitkijk or Lookout Tower was built only in 1839, after the VOC had collapsed. Still, the wall is part of the VOC's original city wall, the Culemborg, which also embraced a fortress, the kasteel, that Governor Daendels demolished in 1809.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 3

The date is 1718. Behind it was a godown or warehouse for trade goods.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 4

We're about to go inside the warehouse shown on the left. We're on top of a surviving bit of the old city wall, with a hemispherically capped guardhouse down the way. The road on the right leads to the Pasar Ikan or fish market.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 5

Have your bearings?

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 6

The warehouse is part of a complex built in 1652 and now housing a maritime museum, the Museum Bahari.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 7

"Solidly constructed" is an understatement.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 8

The beams are massive.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 9

It's easy to imagine the attic filled with pepper, cloves, nutmeg, coffee, tea.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 10

The roof was the weak point in the structure: tile laid on framing.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 11

Looking west from the museum: the buildings are reputed to have been Dutch prisons.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 12

A closer view.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 13

Immediately to the south is the VOC shipyard, closed in 1809 and recently converted to a restaurant. That's the original VOC logo on the wall.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 14

The shipyard from the inside. Boats were dragged from the canal behind the camera.

Indonesia: Jakarta: the VOC picture 15

Several surviving VOC structures are well cared for now.


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