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Java (Jawa) is an island of Indonesia and the site of its capital city, Jakarta. Once the center of powerful Hindu-Buddhist kingdoms, Islamic sultanates, and the core of the colonial Dutch East Indies, Java now plays a dominant role in the economic and political life of Indonesia. Home to a population of 130 million in 2006, it is the most populous island in the world. Java is also one of the most densely populated regions on Earth.


Fort Van der Wijck
History along the main road

If you are on a visit to Kebumen, don't forget to bring a visit to fort Van der Wijck because you think it is not interesting. It's location is almost directly on the main road from Yogyakarta to Kebumen (on the northern side) - just 500 meters to the north in the town of Gombong - and it would be a miss if you didn't stop there for a visit.

This old fort, with it's main color red is a quite remarkable building in between the others and the entrance gate to the tourist area is at quite some distance from the gate of the fort as well. The tourist area has a mini-train that brings visitors from the main entrance to the fort. You don't have to worry about to do when you are at the location, the only thing is that the kids might get somewhat bored inside. Outside however there is a large playground for them.

Don't forget to bring the kids to the giant replica of a dinosaur just in front of the fort. On top of the fort there also is a mini-train constructed, this takes you on a round trip over the roof of the old structure. Inside the fort visitors will see a number of pictures used as documentation to the original fort before the time changes were made to its looks.

Military barracks, service posts and rooms that were used for many different purposes can be viewed in a pretty nice and clean condition. The only strange thing is a sign near the entrance that asks you to do a prayer according to your own religion before entering the fort, does this men that extraordinary events take place here?


Fort Van der Wijck was built in the early 19th century, around 1820, in the time that the revolt of Diponegoro was growing. This revolt kept the Dutch colonial government very busy because Diponegoro was supported by some of the elite from southern Java. Because of this, the Dutch colonial government decided to construct a system of fortes in that area.

The leader of the construction of this fort was governor general Van den Bosch. It's destination was obviously to retain safety in the district of South Kedu. At that time many fortes were built with the help from forced labor because the people had to pay some taxes in the form of labor to the Dutch colonial government. It is clear this way made the inhabitants more wary of the situation they were in, and that even before governor general Deandels ordered the construction of the Groote Postweg (Anyer - Penarukan, over 1,000 kilometers of road), also with the help of forced labor.

Seen from the shape of the building, it was constructed in the same period as fort Willem in Ambarawa (south of Semarang in Central Java) and fort Prins Oranje in Semarang (north coast Central Java), which is a ruin nowadays. When it was built, it had walls with a height of ten meters and it bare the name Fort Cochius. The name was taken from a wife of a Dutch military person, Frans David Cochius) which has done military service in the area of Bagelen, within the then district of Kedu.

The name Van der Wijck, which is now above the entrance, originates from another Dutch military figure that once was the commander of the fort. Van der Wijck had a good reputation because one of his actions was to silence the independence fighters of Aceh, in a fierce way. During the Japanese occupation, this fort was used as barracks and training camp for the PETA (Pembela Tanah Air or 'Fighters for the country').

Seen from it's physical structure, the size of the building is just over 3,600 m2. The building has been renovated and is maintained at that level. Too bad the renovation didn't keep track to much of it's historical value, so it can be promoted as a piece of cultural heritage. The current owner of the building, like most forts and fortresses in Indonesia, is the Indonesian military. Short of money, they have turned this fortress into a small theme park.

Photobook 'Fort Van der Wijck'
31 pictures of the fort


Last revised on October 11, 2009
    
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