Travel to 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, established in 1602) until the company's 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.
This picture was taken near the schooners shown in the previous chapter and looks south toward a Dutch lookout tower shown more closely in the next picture. On the right, the Pasar Ikan, or covered fish market.
The Uitkijk or Lookout Tower was built only in 1839, after the VOC had collapsed. Still, the wall under the lookout tower is part of the VOC's original city wall, the Culemborg, which also embraced a fortress, the kasteel, that Governor Daendels demolished in 1809.
The date is 1718--late days for the VOC. Behind it was a godown, or warehouse for trade goods.
We're about to go inside one of those warehouses, shown on the left. But here is a surviving bit of the old city wall, with a hemispherically capped guardhouse down the way a piece. On the right, the road to Pasar Ikan, the fish market shown earlier.
Have your bearings?
The warehouse is part of a complex built in 1652 and now housing a maritime museum, the Museum Bahari.
"Solidly constructed" is an understatement.
The beams are massive.
The place must have been stuffed, even the attics filled with pepper, cloves, nutmeg, coffee, tea.
The roof was the weak point in the structure: tile laid on framing.
Looking west from the museum: a little Venice, though the buildings are reputed to have been Dutch prisons.
A closer view.
Immediately to the south is the VOC shipyard, closed in 1809 and recently converted to a restaurant. That's the VOC logo you see on the wall.
The shipyard from the inside. Boats were dragged from the canal behind the camera.
Several surviving VOC structures are well cared for now.
The Kali Besar, or (not so poetically) Big Canal. Jan Pieterzoon Coen was the first governor-general of Batavia, and it was under his direction that the Dutch began imposing a Dutch town atop Vijayakarta. We've seen some of the Dutch handiwork, but a lot more reaches upstream from this bridge, the Chicken Market Bridge, built in 1655 and the only surviving bridge of its time.
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