The map below shows the outline of the City of Batavia and its defensive walls and bastions in 1780, at the peak of its commercial development and before the subsequent bankruptcy of the United Dutch East India Company (VOC) only another 15 years later.
Who would believe that after more than 300 years some of the walls of Old Batavia are still standing? Along with Sake Santema from the Bartele Gallery and a small group of enthusiasts we decided to mount an expedition to ‘discover’ part of the old wall. Walking north from Fatahillah Square along Jalan Pintu Besar Utara we passed under the tollroad and then turned right across a muddy open area used to store construction materials. The detail map shows the location of the remaining warehouse and the old wall.
The map shows four warehouses originally built in this location but only one is remaining. These warehouses were built by the VOC from 1700 to 1752 in the eastern area between the City of Batavia and Kasteel Batavia. Known as the Graanpakhuizen (grainwarehouses) they were used to store corn, rice, beans, peanuts, peas, ships biscuit and other foodstuffs. It is possible to enter the abandoned warehouse and after you pick your way throught the dust, dirt and debris you can admire the massive teak beams used in its construction. There must be a way to preserve this historic building before it is allowed to be destroyed by the onslaught of ‘development’.
On the east side of the warehouse we passed through a gap which allowed us to follow the outside of the Old Wall towards the northwest. Here there is a pathway between the wall and the temporary houses built along the canal which extended towards Kasteel Batavia before it was demolished by Marshall Daendels in 1809 to build Fort Cornelis.
This photograph show our small group standing in front of the old wall which towers above us. Sake Santema is holding the historic map of Batavia that we used as our guide.