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Amazing Places to Visit at Old Town Jakarta

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1 Aug

Sunda Kelapa Harbour

Sunda Kelapa Harbour is located at Jalan Baruna Raya No. 2,  Penjaringan Village, District of Sunda Kelapa, North Jakarta. Although Sunda Kelapa  now only as  another port in Jakarta, this area is very important because the village around the port of Sunda Kelapa is the genesis of the city which happened on June 22, 1527.


Sunda Kelapa Harbour is one of the relics of the historic port city. The old port had actually been known since the 12th century AD and was an important port during the last Hindu kingdom Sunda thousands of cities in Padjadjaran. This kingdom was centered around an area known as the city of Bogor right now.

The history of the port of Sunda Kelapa had been started since the reign of the Hindu Kingdom Tarumanegara. This kingdom ended after it was conquered by the kingdom of Srivijaya of Sumatra. So no wonder that the Sundanese inhabiting the port of Sunda Kelapa also speaks Malay, the language spoken by most of the population of Sumatra.

Sunda Kelapa harbor was once the central  traffic for between island  cruise in the archipelago. This port was also known as ocean port frequently visited by other nations in the world such as Portugal, Spain and the Netherlands.


Traders  that were often stopped at the port of which came from Palembang, Tanjongpura, Malacca, Makassar, and Madura. In addition, foreign ships from South China, Gujarat or South Indian, and Arabic were also often stop at this port to trade goods, such as porcelain, coffee, silk, fabrics, perfumes, incense, horses, wine, and dye. Chinese traders often referred to Sunda Kelapa as Ye-cheng city which means “City of Coconut” because there were many coconut trees that grew around the port.

According to Portuguese sources, the port of Sunda Kelapa or ‘Kalapa’ was  owned by Sunda kingdom at Banten besides Cigede, Tamgara and Cimanuk. This port has been used since the days of Tarumanegara and is estimated to have since the 5th century who was called Sundapura.

In the 12th century, the port was known as  pepper busy port belong to the Kingdom of Sunda, which is capitalized at Padjadjaran Pakuan and now the city of Bogor. Foreign vessels originating from China, Japan, South India, and the Middle East already docked at these ports carrying goods such as porcelain, coffee, silk, fabrics, perfumes, horses, wine, and dye in exchange for spcies which became a trade commodity at the time.

Islamic period and the beginning of Western colonialism

In the late 15th century and early 16th century, European explorers set sail to visit various ports of the world. The Portuguese sailed to Asia and in 1511 even been able to make the port city of Malacca on the Malay Peninsula. Malaka was setup as their exploration base to Southeast Asia and East Asia


The layout of the port of Sunda Kelapa stretches along one or two kilometers above the narrow pieces of land that were cleared on both banks of the Ciliwung river. This place is near its estuary located in the bay and sheltered by several islands. The river was allowed to enter 10 merchant ships, each of which has a capacity of 100 tons. Such vessels were generally owned by Malays, Japanese and Chinese. In addition there was also the ships from the East Indonesia.

Meanwhile Portuguese ships of small type that has a loading capacity between 500-1000 tonnes to be anchored on the front beach. Tome ‘Pires  also reported that trading commodity goods transported by lanchara Sunda, that ships carrying up to approximately 150 tons.

In 1511, as reported Tome ‘Pries, Sunda Kelapa harbor was crowded and  visited by merchants and sailors from areas such as Sumatra, Malacca, South Sulawesi, Java and Madura. Sunda Kelapa traded in pepper, rice, sour, beef animals, gold, vegetables and fruits.

In 1513, the Portuguese under the leadership of De Alvin arrived in Sunda Kelapa with a fleet of four ships after the conquest of Malacca. They intended to seek new trading land to meet the needs of their herbs in the Western world.

In 1522, Governor Alfonso d ‘Albuquerque based in Malacca sent Henriwue Leme to meet the call of the king of Sunda to build fortifications in order to guard the Sunda Kelapa from attack the Muslims from Cirebon who supported the Sultan of Demak from Demak kingdom which had became the center of Islamic power. The Muslims in Sunda Kelapa initially were migrants from Java and the Javanese people of Arab descent.

Then on August 21, 1522 the Portuguese came again to Sunda Kelapa to bring a gift for the king of Sunda. This gift was a symbol of cooperation between the kingdom of Sunda and the Portuguese empire. Based on the cooperation of Portuguese traders were allowed to build a fort which was also function as a warehouse to store their merchandise. The fort was built in the Kali Besar near the port of Sunda Kelapa. In return the king of Sunda asked the Portuguese to help expel the Muslims as the strengthening of Islamic influence of the  Demak and Cirebon kingdoms.

On August 21, 1522 they made a covenant stating that the Portuguese would make lodges (offices and housing furnished castle) on Sunda Kelapa, while Sunda Kelapa would supplying the goods they need. Raja Sunda will give the Portuguese people 1,000 baskets of pepper as a sign of friendship. A memorial stone (padrao) was made to commemorate the event. Padrao was called Kite slaka dimas in  Sunda folklore mundinglaya dikusumah and only rediscovered in 1918 at the corner of Prinsentraat (Jalan Clove) and Groenestraat (East Fishermen Road ) in Jakarta.

In 1527 under the leadership Franscesco de Sa, the Portuguese fleet came back to Sunda Kelapa to prepare for construction of the fort there. However, the combined strength of the Islamic empire Cirebon and Demak totaling 1,452 soldiers under the leadership of Fatahillah had conqured Sunda Kelapa. Then, when docked, the Portuguese fleet eventually repelled by a combined two soldiers of the Islamic kingdoms. After winning the Sunda Kelapa from the Portuguese, on June 22, 1527, Fatahillah changed the name of the port city of Sunda Kelapa to Jayakarta which means “glorious victory”.

The period of Dutch Colonialism


At the end of the 16th century, the Dutch began to venture into the eastern world. Under the leadership of Cornelis de Houtmen, they finally get to the archipelago. Right on May 30, 1619, the Dutch (VOC) seized Jayakarta from Demak’s power  under the leadership of Jan Pieterszoon Coen. Coen then rename Jayakarta into Batavia. By the new rulers, Sunda Kelapa harbour was enlarged and managed as a major port for trade traffic to Batavia.

As previously mentioned, the power Demak in Jayakarta not last long. At the end of the 16th century, the Dutch began to explore the world and find your way to the east. They commissioned Cornelis de Houtman to sail into what is now Indonesia. This expedition despite high costs deemed successful with the establishment Vereenigde Oostindische Compagnie (VOC) in 1602. In seeking spices in Southeast Asia, they needed a base as berths and gather strength. Then in progress on 30 May 1619, the Dutch seized Jayakarta under the leadership of Jan Pieterszoon Coen and destroyed. On top of the debris Jayakarta founded a new city. JP Coen initially wanted to name this city Nieue Hoorn (Hoorn Baru), corresponding native town of Hoorn in the Netherlands. But ultimately he chose the name Batavia. This name is the name of a Celtic tribe that once lived on Netherlands in Roman times.

According to historical records, the port of Sunda Kelapa was originally built with a 810 meter long canal. In 1817, the Dutch government enlarging be 1,825 meters. After independence era, it was  renovated so  this port has a 3,250 meter long canal that can accommodate 70 sailboat with a system of betel leaves.

The 19th century

Around 1859, Sunda Kelapa was not as busy as ever before. Due to silting, the ships were no longer able to lean in close to the port so that goods from the sea must be transported by boat. It was actually being accelerated and modern touches (modernization), especially since the opening of the Suez Canal in 1869 which shorten the distance and thanks to the ability steamships that more rate increases the current inter-oceanic shipping. Besides Batavia also built to compete with Singapore by Raffles in 1819.

To boost competitiveness the Dutch then  built Tanjung Priuk ocean port, which is located about 15 km to the east of the Sunda Kelapa to replace it. It was almost simultaneously with the first railroad was built (1873) between Batavia – Buitenzorg (Bogor). Four years earlier (1869) appears drawn tram rode four horses, which were given iron at the mouth.

In the mid-19th century the entire area around the  Syahbandar tower where Dutch and European elites lived become unhealthy. Once the area around Batavia free from the threat of wild animals, and hordes of runaway slaves, many people Sunda Kelapa migrated to the south.


20th century

During the occupation army of Dai Nippon which began in 1942, Batavia was renamed Jakarta. After Dai Nippon army came out in 1945, the name was still used by the Dutch who want to regain control of Indonesia. Then during the New Order, Sunda Kelapa reused. Based on Jakarta Governor Decree No.D.IV a.4 / 3/74 dated March 6, 1974, the name of Sunda Kelapa officially used as the name of the port. This port is also called Fish Market because there is a large fish market there.

In its history, the Dutch managed to control the port of Sunda Kelapa and the surrounding area for more than 300 years. This port since the Sundanese kingdom until the Netherlands has changed name according to its ruler. Today, the Sunda Kelapa harbour was not as busy as before. This port is only used as a place to accommodate Phinisi ships carrying timber from other regions in Indonesia to Jakarta.

Now Sunda Kelapa Harbour

Sunda Kelapa port in terms of economics does have strategic value, because it is close to commercial centers in Jakarta, such as Glodok, Pasar Pagi, Mangga Dua, and others. This port has a total land area of 760 hectares and 16 470 hectares of water area which consists of a main port and  Kalibaru harbour. The main port area has a length of 3,250 meters with an area of 12,000 square meters. While the Kalibaru port area has a length of 750 meters with a total land area of 343 339 square meters. By that measure, the main port at least accommodates 70 sailboat motors and Kalibaru port accommodates 65 motor boats between islands.

This port is now known to the public as the  fish market harbour, because of its location at the mouth of the Ciliwung river and is the oldest port in Indonesia which has conducted economic activity since the time of the Sunda kingdom (Padjadjaran) in the 14th century.

Sunda Kelapa Harbor is now the port of loading and unloading of goods, mainly wood from the island of Borneo. Along the harbor lined  Phinisi vessels (Schooner Bugis) with a distinctive shape, tapered at one end and colorful on the body. Every day seemed views of the workers busy up and down the ship for loading and unloading goods. For the purpose of dismantling the building materials from outside of Java such as sawn timber, rattan, kaoliang, copra and so on. Loading and unloading of goods in this  harbour still using traditional means.

Currently  port of Sunda Kelapa is planned to become a tourist area because of high historical value. Sunda Kelapa Harbour is one of the ports managed by PT Pelindo II, which are not certified for  International Ship and Port Security, because of the nature of its  services only for ship service between islands.  Also available at the port warehouse facilities hoarding, both ordinary warehouse or fire barn.

In terms of history, this port is one of the tourist destinations in the city. Not far from this port are Maritime Museum which displays Indonesian maritime world of the past and historical heritage of the Dutch colonial past.

To the south of this port there is also  VOC Shipyard and VOC buildings that have been renovated. Besides the port is planned to undergo the reclamation for the construction of a multifunctional  East Ancol terminal  area of 500 hectares.


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