Former VOC Palace
This VOC Palace was built in 1611 by the first Dutch VOC Controller and later used y the first Dutch VOC Governor - General, Jan Pietersoon Coen, in 1621. This ansion faces the Zonnegat strait, with the huge Belgica Fortress in the background on the Tabaleku HV hill. A larger replica of this mansion was built a year later (1612) in Jayakarta, akarta now, and since the Indonesian Independence, it has been used as the Palace of the President of the Republic of Indonesia. In one of the yards and gardens of Naira Mansion, there is a large bronze statue of Stadhouder Willem of the Neteherlands. On the one of the window's glass facing the sea, there is a 19th century inscription carved by a 35 year old Resident Rutger Martens Schwabbing.
The inscription date is September 1, 1831. This gentleman died on April 12,1832 according to the Dutch historical records. There was once a local belief of the Naira's people that the inscription was made by the same man, but after his death, the year was read as 1832. It is still said that the room is "spooky" (kamar spok). You can easily walk for 10 minutes to this spot from the harbour.
Nassau Fort, often referred to as the "Beneden Kasteel" was built in the early years of the Dutch settlement in the Banda Islands. Admiral Verhoeven built this fort in 1607-1609 on the remains of a Portuguese fort built a century earlier. Verhoeven never saw the completion of this fort, because he was killed in an ambush by local Bandanese freedom fighters in 1609. This fort is still a ruin now and there was a hidden underground stairway leading to the hilltop of Fort Belgica. Jan Pietersoon Coen, a sailor under the command of Admiral Verhoeven, escaped from the ambush while Verhoeven didn't.
Later in 1621 Coen returned to the Banda Islands as the VOC Governor-General and made his revenge for the 1609 villainy/ massacre. He brought with him 80-100 Japanese mercenaries (some of them well-practiced executioners) in his expedition to the Banda Islands in 1621.
The Banda massacre on May 8, 1621, was held in the area in front of the Nassau fort. Six Japanese swordmen beheaded and quartered 44 orang kaya (chiefs or village elders). Some told that there were only 42 cut into five, because two of them,
House of the Late Dr. Moh. Hatta
Some 50 metres from the VOC Mansion is the house of Dr. Moh. Hatta, who was exiled by the Dutch. Later in 1945 he became the first Vice-President of the Republic of Indonesia, with Ir. Soekarno as the first President. This house is converted to a historical monument / museum and opened to visitors. There is a large ancient earthenware urn in the yard of the house. The urn is half-buried in one corner of the yard.
Belgica Fort was built in 1611 by the first Governer-General of the Banda Islands, Pieter Both, who was an energetic and experienced sea captain and merchant. He built Belgica Fort on the spot where Nassau Fort should had been built. This fort was rebuilt and enlarged several times during the Dutch occupation. Today it has been renovated according to its original dimensions and size.
This church was bulit in 1852 to replace the Hollandische Kerk which was destroyed by a big earthquake. The ancient church was built in the 1600s and was then the pride of Naira town, which was also destoyed. The Sunday services during the Dutch colonial period of the 17th century were conducted in Dutch in the morning and in Malay in the afternoon.
This church is situated in a 17th century park surrounding the Fort of Nassau. The church has granite gravestones composing the floor, bearing the names of Dutch officials and Bandanese Perkeniers of the former centuries. They were buried under the enormous granite markers, sunk into the floor of the church. There were several old bibles found in this church dating from the 18th century. On the panels of the front door there is still visible the inscription of the old VOC initials.
The old bronze church bell is still used, and it is believed that there are only four bells from that period left in the world.
Bronze Bust of Stadhouder Willem III
The bronze bust of Stadhouder Willem III of the Netherlands was brought to Naira during VOC's golden era. It is found between the Governor-General Mansion and the VOC Authority office / NHM (Nederlandsche Handels - Maatschappij), a semi-private Dutch Trading Company, and successor of the VOC, which took over the VOC personnel, facilities, function, and techniques to manage most of the perkeniers' (plantation) products.
This bust together with the two bronze lions in front of the entrance of the mansion, were thrown to the sea by the citizens during the Indonesia-Dutch conflict in 1950.
Later these items were repaired and placed in their present location. The original location' of the bust was in a park, somewhere near the Naira Church and the Belgica Fort.
The Old Naira Town
Naira town is very different from it was in the old 17th, 18th and 19th centuries. The offices of the controleur and the houses of the perkeniers are mostly in ruins today. These buildings have no longer the original huge paving slabs, polished marble, brightly glazed floor tiles, heavy beams, and large shuttered doors and windows. These marble tiles and other home and office furniture are brought from Holland and functioned as ballast on the ship sailing to Banda. These ships returned to Holland laden with spices (cloves, nutmeg, and mace) as trade commodities which also functioned as ballast. Once there was a proper gravel roadway shaded by trees which enriched the beauty of the town of Naira. The trees were cut down in the 1960s, leaving only the trees grew in the residential yards.
The Banda Archipelago was the original product center of the world-renowned spices, the nutmeg and mace. When the Dutch took it over by force from the Portuguese, they established their perken, the so-called nutmeg-plntations all over these islands. There are about 68 perkens on these islands: 3 are found on Naira Island, 34 on Lonthoir or Banda Besar, and 31 on Ay islet. Before, during and after the Banda massacre in 1621, the original inhabitants of the Banda Islands fled to Seram, Kei and other islands. The Dutch then brought in people from Java, South Sulawesi (Buton) and Central Maluku to work as farmers, picking and collecting, peeling and sorting, drying and loading the nutmeg and mace, under the supervisions of Dutch Perkeniers. Photo courtesy of Kai Muiier So the present day inhabitants of the Banda Islands are a mixture of Dutch, Javanese, Butonese and Central Malukan ancestry. There are still nutmeg trees of over two centuries old which are still producing. These nutmeg plantations on the Banda Islands are still to be seen, some are planted among the tall canary trees to shade and protect the nutmeg trees from the sunrays. Most of these nutmeg plantations are still productive and managed by P.T. Perkebunan Pala Banda. lonthoir Island or also known as Banda Besar, is the largest island in the Banda Islands (appr. 2.800 ha.). It looks like a great wall hiding and protecting the Naira and Gunung Api Islands from the southeastern winds and waves. This island also has many attractions to offer to the visitor, among others:
This fort was built in 1642 on Lonthoir island facing the Naira's VOC Governor-General's mansion, across the Zonnegat strait. Formerly named Fort Lonthoir, later Dr. Pieter Vlak renamed it Fort Hollandia.
From here one can enjoy a nice view across the Zonnegat Strait to the mansion, and the Belgica Fort on top of the Tabaleku hill on Naira island and even to the villages along the shoreline of Lonthoir.
The fort was built to control the sea traffic passing through the strait between
Naira arid Lonthoir, especially monitor the activities of the nutmeg and mace trade down in the village of Lonthoir. To reach this fort one must walk through the village of Lonthoir and then go up appr. 260 stairs, past one of the perkeniers' recidences, and an old 18th century Dutch cemetery. One of the perkeniers' graves was made for a Bandanese-born Dutch family of the Lantzius perkenier.
The fort is small and is in ruins, but it was built on the hill top, and it is worth to visit for its historical background and for the fantastic view.
"Nona Lantzius" Tomb
"Nona Lantzius" was the daughter of Lantzius, a perkenier. She was born in Naira on April 26, 1874. No one knows her name because the marble plate on her tomb where her name was written has been taken away. On the back of her tomb was a Dutch inscription :
It says that on April 26, 1847 she was born in Naira, passed away on June 29, 1887 in 's Gravenhage (the Neteherlands) after a surgery; buried temporarily there on July 2; on September 29 uncovered and taken to Amsterdam and put on board of the Danish fregat "Glaus"; October 21 departed from Ijmuiden; arrived on February 17, 1888; and laid here on the 22nd of February 1888. Her tomb was made by Laurent Philips & Co., the Hague in Holland and shipped to Lonuioir. The remains of this lady were on board for nearly four months to have her final and eternal rest on Lonthoir island where she was born and grown up. Her grave is known to the Lonthoirs as "Nona Lantzius" (Miss Lantzius).
Up on the hill, there is an old Dutch perkenier's residence. This building is now used as the office of the local village administration. One can still see the ruins of an old drying house here, where the nutmegs were fire-dried in the rainy season. Old ruined storage buildings are also found here.
One has to climb more than 260 stairs to this walled building. This stair-way was built during the Dutch era, and later rebuilt by the villagers. From here one will have a very nice view up to the volcano and down to the Naira Island.
One of the famous Dutch admiral who came to Banda Islands in 1623, Pieter van den Broecke, had his perken on this island. A large picture of him can be seen in the London Museum today. He married a Bandanese woman and his great-great grandson is still living in Lonthoir, controls his perken. This old man still bears the name van den Broecke, owns a small accomodation facility in Walang Besar village in Lonthoir. One of his great-grand fathers, lieutenant and perkenier Paulus van den Broecke, has his tomb dated 1754 in the church yard of former Ay's Bethlehem Church.
Concordia Fort is also known as Fort Wayer, situated in the village of Wayer on the eastern coast of Lonthoir island. During the heyday of the spice trade this fort served as a watchtower for all the perkens in the eastern side of Lonthoir island.
This is a well which is regarded sacred to the inhabitants of the Banda Islands. The well is 7 meters deep situated on a hill, appr. 90 metres above the sea-level. To get there, one has to walk up the same stairway which leads to Fort Hollandia and the Dutch Perkenier mansions, halfway up there is a right turn to the well.At certain times there is a Cleaning Ceremony of the well. The last time it was cleaned in 1989. To clean it, the villagers used a 99 depa (99 local fathoms) white cloth.According to a reliable source in Naira, the cleaning ceremony of the Perigi Keramat is done to commemorate the death of 33 Imams (Moslem leaders). One day, a group of Dutch soldiers and merchants got drunk with a group of villagers. The villagers took them to a rock and dropped them into the sea. Nobody knew what happened to the Dutch soldiers and merchants. Later, someone found the remains of these victims in the sea and made a report to the Dutch authorities in Naira. The Dutch authority was very angry, so they caught the 33 imams and dropped them into this well. The villagers later named the rock from where the drunken Dutch were dropped into the sea, Batu Belanda (Dutch Stone). Because the well was, and still used for drinking water, the local villagers of Lonthoir made a special ceremony to recall the recovering of the remains of the 33 imams and to clean the well. The remains of the 33 imams were taken out of the well, and by using 99 fathoms of white cloth, they cleaned the well. The white cloth is meant to wrap the remains of the 33 imams according to Islamic way of burying.