Sunda Kelapa is the name of Jakarta’s old seaport near the bay area of North Jakarta, formerly the cradle of civilisation of the Hindu rajadom of Sunda, which ruled much of the tip of West Java.
Here you will find the iconic view of phinisi, elegant wooden two-masted schooners of the great Bugis seafaring tribes from South Sulawesi, docked in neat rows. Sunda Kelapa forms part of the historical area of the capital city, sharing the neighbourhood with Kota Tua, Jakarta’s old town.
Due to its strategic position as a trade point with regular crossings by merchant ships from the Far East, Sunda Kelapa was prized by many kingdoms and European colonial powers, before falling into the hands of the Dutch East Indies, who expanded the port with various canals. Now the area covers 760Ha of land and 16,470Ha of sea.
What to discover?
Within walking distance from the old seaport is Indonesia’s only maritime museum, one of the eight official museums in Jakarta referred to locally as Museum Bahari. The museum is a great spot to go deeper into the nation’s maritime history and get know better the tumultuous past of the world’s largest archipelago. Inside are exhibits of various forms of sea craft, arts and informational displays of Indonesia’s seafaring cultures, together with naval maps and charts, anchors, and model lighthouses and cannons.
The museum stands on the bank of Jakarta’s Ciliwung River, and was once a major port warehouse, a place to store, select and pack various shipping commodities, from spices, tea, copper, coffee and tropical fruits to textiles. It bears two sides, facing east and west. Sunda Kelapa is a free activity, while entrance into the museum is only IDR 2,000 for adults and free for kids under five. The museum is closed on Mondays.