Lyden, fort (Ambon)

In 1599 Wybrand van Warwyck led four ships of the second Dutch fleet ever to reach the Indies, into the bay of Hitu Lama. He and his men were warmly received by local residents, because they hoped the Dutch might help to drive out the Portuguese. The Dutch did take over power from the Portuguese, but had very similar plans to those of their European predecessors, aiming to make most out of the trading opportunities the region had to offer. Van Warwyck felt the need to build a fortress that could protect the Dutch trade interest against the Portuguese competition, as well as possible local uprisings. In the early days of the VOC it became the trading post in this region.

The first fort the Dutch built here was a simple enclosure with palisades. Trying to save on personnel costs, the post was abandoned and reinforced several times. In 1642 the post nearly fell in the hands of Makassar troops. This event persuaded the VOC to strengthen the post and keep soldiers stationed here permanently. A stone blockhouse was built within the fort which was first named Enkhuizen and later renamed Fort Leyden. It was guarded by 20 soldiers under the command of a sergeant. Just like other forts in the region –after being occupied by British troops from 1796 until 1817

it was again put in a state of defence during the uprisings in 1817. After this situation had calmed down again, the troops left the fort and the structure was finally abandoned.

After the fort was abandoned, locals started using the stones to build their houses. The site of the blockhouse is now the location of the house of the Hitu Lama village community leaders. Only some ruins of the foundation of the fort can still be seen.


Sources and literature

anoniem/anonymous, Landmonsterrollen (1691-1790)

Pusat Dokumentasi Arsitektur, Inventory and identification of forts in Indonesia (2010)

Wall, V.I. van de, De Nederlandsche oudheden in de Molukken (1928)

Jaspers, J.H.B., De gedragslijn der V.O.C. bij de bevestiging van haar macht en invloed op het eiland Amboina etc.