Fort Belgica - Bandaneira Island

View from the West Tower overlooking the town and the expedition ship National Geographic Orion

Constructed in 1611, under the orders of Pieter Both, first Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, Fort Belgica was built to fortify the hill which dominated the original Dutch fortress, Fort Nassau, Banda Islands, in order to prevent others doing the same.

By the mid seventeenth century earthquakes, the tropical monsoonal climate, and poor original construction materials and techniques had resulted in the structure becoming dilapidated. In 1667, Governor Cornelis Speelman instructed Engineer Adriaan de Leeuw to redesign and reconstruct the fort, the major modification works being completed by 1673. The new design consisted of a low outer pentagonal structure with five angled corner bastions and a higher inner pentagon with five tall circular towers. It was the only fort of this kind throughout the Banda Islands.

Despite over 300,000 Guilders spent on the modifications, an armament of 50 guns and a garrison of 400 men Fort Belgica surrendered to a British fleet in 1796 without a shot fired. Returned to Dutch control in 1803, it was again taken by the British in 1810, when it was stormed by Captain Cole and his men. 

Tony Redhead

93 Maud Street, Unley, SA, 5061, Australia