Along the eastern side of Jl. Jend. A. Yani, is Fort Marlborough. The fortress was built between 1713 and 1719 and it was completely renovated between 1977 and 1984. It is square-shaped with measurements 240 x 170 meters and all of the four corners have a bastion.
Fort Marlborough was founded to replace Fort York. How interesting the new fortress looked, both times it was attacked by enemies it fell in their hands; the first time in 1719 during a local revolt, the second time in 1760 when a French fleet passed. The outer wall is surrounded by a dry trench. Following the reports the trench was not only for the defense, but it also stopped the guards going to the nearby kampung for buying palm wine.
After 1825 Fortress Marlborough was used by the Dutch until the invasion of Japan in 1942. After the capitulation of Japan the police of the young Republik Indonesia housed in it for a short period of time. After that the Dutch occupied the fortress again to suppress the revolution, but in 1950 it was returned to the police again, which used it until the mid 1980's. Now the fortress is opened as a museum.
The main entrance from the fortress oversees the south and is protected by a double wall. When entering you will see the encrypted gravestones from British officers, among them the one of Thomas Parr. The northern entrance as well as the southern one could be reached by small wooden bridges. A small door at the eastern side lead to the place of the Indian soldiers. A back wall is never built; an earth wall protects it from there.
The big wooden fences of the fortress give access to the court. At one side is the prison in which Soekarno was held during the first days of his exile in 1938. The other side houses a museum. Inside the fortification were no buildings: soldiers places, kitchens, offices and others were all built in the wall itself. Some of these chambers are now used to inform about the history of the fortress and showing objects which were found during the last renovation. Several wall paintings now decorate the walls of what once was a prison cell.
The environment of the fortress reflects a sober, melancholic atmosphere, especially at night, when the sad spirit of Raffles still is near the walls, looking over the seas under the sails of the Fame, the ship that should take him and his ill wife out of Bengkulu. The earlier British residence across the fortress, just a short distance away from the main road, has turned into a ramshackle building. Two hundred meters to the north is a viewpoint, Tapak Paderi, with beautiful sunsets over sea. The open square at the southeastern corner of the fortress dates from the time that the British were constructing the fortress.
After leaving Fortress Marlborough go to the old Chinese quarter in the area of Jl. D.I. Penjaitan, just behind the British residence and close to the Parr Monument. Along both sides of the street, old, wooden shops of two stores decorate the street. These houses were built in 1926, after one of the frequent earthquakes had destroyed the area.
Location map of Fort Marlborough
Last revised on October 24, 2009
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