BAAN HOLLANDA - THE INFORMATION CENTER OF THE OLD DUTCH SETTLEMENT
After having been plundered and burnt in the Burmese attack of March 1767, "Tuek
Daeng" (1) rises out of her ashes again. A modern facility with a Dutch colonial styled
front, facing the Chao Phraya River, has been recently constructed by the Dutch
Government in close cooperation with the Thai authorities and the Fine Arts Department
on the old VOC-site (2) in Ayutthaya.

Baan Hollanda, as it has been baptized, is situated on what was called before "Ko
Wilanda" or the Dutch Island, formed by the old Lopburi River (3) on its north and
western sides and
Khlong Suan Phlu on its eastern and southern sides. On the same
island, located in present Khlong Sra Bua sub-district, were situated
Wat Phanan
Choeng, some smaller temples and the English settlement.

A modern exhibition, explaining the key events and facts regarding the Dutch East India
Company's involvement in Siam and providing a picture with proper historical contexts,
as well as a drawing of the continuity of Thai-Dutch relations up until the present, is
planned for the near future. The exhibition project is lead by two Thai historians Mr.
Dhiravat na Pombejra (4) and Mrs. Bhawan Ruangsilp (5) in cooperation with Thai and
Dutch museums.

"
Baan Hollanda" - probably a corruption of Holland and "Wilanda" (6), as the Dutch
were called in the Ayutthayan era - is in fact the realisation of a 50 year long process,
started with the inauguration of the brick VOC memorial in 1954.

When 50 years later Queen Beatrix of The Netherlands came to Thailand for the
celebration of the 4th centennial of Thai-Dutch relations, a new wind blew in favor of the
old VOC-site; and work started to contain and preserve the cultural and historical value
of the former Dutch habitation. The "
Baan Hollanda" project was born.

In 1938, the Fine Arts Department registered the Dutch settlement as an historical site
(published in the Royal Gazette 55 of 27 February 1938). In 1956 excavations occurred
at the site by foreigners (Dutch?) authorized by the local authorities. A tunnel was dug
near the VOC memorial and was filled up there after. [1] Not much seems to be known
regarding these diggings at that time.

Excavations by the Thai Fine Arts Department - 3th Region started in 2004 on the
occasion of the 400th Anniversary of Thai - Dutch relations. Three brick structures were
uncovered. [1] In 2005 a second excavation followed, but apparently work was
suspended due to a budget shortage. [2]

Excavations finally resumed in 2008 with financial and technical support from the Dutch
Government. Archaeologists located the foundations of a fourth brick building and
discovered a number of artifacts, such as clay pipes, glassware, coins and ceramics. [1]
The main VOC building, a two-storey structure with a size of 12.5 by 45 meters, could
unfortunately only be partly excavated, as much of its foundations rest on the
neighbouring private shipyard.

The settlement, measuring today 1.3 Rai (2000 sq. m) occupies only one tenth of the
original VOC plot. The three other brick foundations discovered were apparently a
warehouse, accommodation and the billiard hall described by Gijsbert Heeck (7). The
four brick foundations were consolidated for preservation. [2]

A Memorandum of Understanding on the Dutch Information Center project in Ayutthaya
- in fact an extended activity marking the 400th anniversary of diplomatic relations
between Thailand and the Netherlands - was approved by the Thai Cabinet on 17
November 2009. [3] Construction in situ started early September 2010, but headed
really off at the end of the monsoon period. The building was finalized in April 2011.

The information center can be reached by boat, as a good landing has been built on the
riverside. This could be done in connection with the Japanese and Portuguese settlements
(on condition the boat landings are repaired).

Baan Hollanda opened its doors for visitors on 3 April 2013.

More information on the Dutch in Ayutthaya can be found
here.

Footnotes:

(1) Called the "red building" by the local population, referring to the color of the bricks
and tiles of the structure.
(2) VOC - Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie or United East Indian Company.
(3) See the essay:
Ayutthaya's Ever-changing Waterways.
(4) Co-author of "Van Vliet's Siam" (2005), "In the king's trail" (1997) and "The Dutch
East India Company in Japan, Siam and Indonesia" (1982).
(5) Author of "Dutch East India Company Merchants at the Court of Ayutthaya" (2007).
(6) "Wilanda" is said sometimes to be a corruption of the Dutch word "Verenigde",
expressed in Thai (replace the V by W and the R by L as no letter V exist in the Thai
alphabet and the letter R is often spoken out as an L).  "Verenigde" is the first word of
the "Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie" and Thais still today prefer to use first names.
(7) "When you enter from the river side, you see on the lower right hand side of the
square a nice brick room, airy because of the many windows that can be opened on all
sides. In it stands a “troktafel” for the recreation and pleasure of the young cadets". - (a
troktafel = a billiard) [4]

References:

[1] Excavation report of the Dutch Settlement - page 32 (in Thai language).
[2] Bangkok Post - 18 April 2010 - "Dutch return to Old Siam".
[3] National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT) - 18 November 2009 - "Information
center of Dutch settlement in Thailand to be built".
[4] A Traveler in Siam in the Year 1655: Extracts from the Journal of Gijsbert Heeck -
Barend Jan Terwiel (2008).
Text & Photographs by Tricky Vandenberg - May 2011
(View from the east of the Information Center)
(View from the southwest of the Information Center)
(Sketch from the Excavation Report - FAD)
(Sketch of the Excavation Report - FAD and based on
Heecks description of 1655)
(VOC - coin)