The Jakarta History Museum (also known as Fatahillah Museum) is housed in the former City Hall located in the old part of the city now known as Jakarta Kota, some hundred meters behind the port and warehouses of Sunda Kelapa.
Originally called the Stadhuis, this building was the administrative headquarters of the Dutch East India Company, and later of the Dutch Government. Built in 1710 by Governor General van Riebeeck, this solid building hides below it notorious dungeons and filthy water prisons. Most prisoners, both Dutch rebels and Indonesian “natives” were publicly flogged, barbarically impaled and executed on the square called the Stadhuisplein--now known as Fatihillah Square--while the Dutch overlords looked down superciliously on the proceedings below from the portico and windows above.
Indonesia’s freedom fighter Javanese Prince Diponegoro, who was treacherously arrested, was imprisoned here in 1830 before being banished to Manado in North Sulawesi. Another freedom fighter earlier imprisoned here around 1670 was Untung Suropati from East Java.
In the center of the square is a fountain which served as water supply for the colonial capital, Batavia, while to its north is a Portuguese cannon, believed to be a font of fertility.
Today, the Jakarta History Museum displays the history of Jakarta from prehistoric days to the founding of the town of Jayakarta in1527 by Prince Fatahillah of Banten, and through Dutch colonization from the 16th. century onwards until Indonesia’s Independence in 1945.
The collection includes a replica of the Tugu Inscription that dates back to the 5th century under the reign of the great King Purnawarman, evidence that the center of the Tarumanegara kingdom was located around the present day seaport of Tanjung Priok.
Further historical evidence of thriving Sunda Kelapa Harbour is a 16th. century map and replica of the 1522 Padrao monument, commemorating the friendship treaty between the Portuguese and the Sunda kingdom. Furthermore, maps and drawings show the establishment of the City of Jayakarta in 1527 by Prince Fatahillah. While the rich collection of Betawi and Colonial style furniture dating to the 17th, 18th and 19th century belongs to one of the most complete in the world. This collection reflects the influences of various cultural elements on the City of Batavia, namely from Europe, especially from the Netherlands, from China and India as well as from Indonesia itself.
And to bring more life and activities to the Old Batavia square, today the Jakarta Government has organized regular attractions involving local communities and their cultures. On Sundays, shows are performed presenting the Zapin dance, a combination of Betawi and Middle Eastern influences, the Barongsai Chinese lion dance, the Portuguese influenced keroncong music, the typical Betawi Tanjidor music, batik fashion shows, vintage cars parades, food and souvenirs and fireworks.