Sunda Kelapa was an important port connecting markets from all around the world in 15th century during the reign of Hindu Sunda Kingdom of Pajajaran. It was previously known as Pasar Ikar, which means "fish market." It is a great place to wander in canoes and boats while witnessing the humdrums of the fish market and unloading of timber, coal and spices.
Sunda Kelapa is located on the banks of River Ciliwung. It is a functional port, operated by Indonesia Portugal Operations for Inter-Island freight service. At present, this old port is a minor port but an important aspect that brought about the evolution of the city over the centuries. With the sea, rows of traditional boats and the port, one can experience an old-age charm of Jakarta at the Sunda Kelapa Harbour. Stopping by to enjoy the scenic views is much recommended.
Although Sunda Kelapa is identified as a 15th-century harbour, Chi Fan Chi, a historic text from the 1200s states the existence of a similar port when two strong kingdoms ruled the region, the Kediri Kingdom/ Java Kingdom and the Sriwijaya Kingdom. Sunda was under the reign of the Sriwijaya Kingdom.
Other texts from the 13th to the 16th century mention that the Sunda Kingdom controlled the region of Sunda and trading at Sunda Kelapa. In the successive years, Sunda Kelapa served as a major trading port in the region. It also became a commercial centre for ships coming from China, South India, Japan, Middle East, Europe, etc. who often docked at the port.
The location of Sunda Kelapa enabled the trade of Indonesian spices, especially pepper, the main spice of Sunda kingdom. Most Arabs settled along the coast and some traders even spread Islam in the region. In the 15th century, King Sunda teamed up with the Portuguese to fight against the Sultanate of Cirebon and Demak.
The Portuguese even built a fort and a trading office near the port. But, the Sultanates captured Kelapa and changed its name to 'Jayakarta'. It is said that the city's name, Jakarta, comes from this name. By the 17th century, Jakarta was making huge profits by trading spices. This pushed the Dutch to expand the production and trade in the city.
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