|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 the present Khlong Sra Bua sub-district, were situated Wat Phanan
Choeng, some smaller temples and the English settlement.
In 1938, the Fine Arts Department registered the Dutch settlement as a historical site
(published in the Royal Gazette 55 of 27 February 1938). In 1952, with the assistance of
the then Curator of the Fine Arts Department, Luang Boribal Buribband. the solid brick
foundations of this considerable V.O.C. establishment was located. With the generous
assistance of the Dutch community in Thailand, a brick monument with an inscribed
bronze plaque was erected on these brick foundations on 19 August 1956.  Also 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 thereafter. 
Not much seems to be known regarding these diggings at that time.
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. "Baan
Hollanda" - probably a corruption of Holland and "Wilanda" (4), 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 1956.
|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)
|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 led by two Thai historians Mr.
Dhiravat na Pombejra (5) and Mrs. Bhawan Ruangsilp (6) in cooperation with Thai
and Dutch museums.
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.  In 2005 a second excavation followed, but apparently, work was
suspended due to a budget shortage. 
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.
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, the accommodation and the billiard hall described by Gijsbert Heeck (7).
The four brick foundations were consolidated for preservation.
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.  Construction in situ started early September 2010, but
headed really off at the end of the monsoon period. The building was finalized in April
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.
|Inauguration of the VOC memorial plaque by N.A.J. de Voogd, Extraordinary
Envoy and Minister Plenipotentiary (1954 - 1957) of the Dutch Legation on 19
August 1956. (Ben Oostdam's Journal of Three Years (1954-1957) in Thailand)
|J. Boeles of Internatio reads the inscription: "Here stood from 1634 to 1767 the
trading post of the United East Indies Company (VOC)." (Ben Oostdam's Journal
of Three Years (1954-1957) in Thailand)
(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) "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.
(5) 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).
(6) Author of "Dutch East India Company Merchants at the Court of Ayutthaya" (2007).
(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) 
 Boeles J.J. - Note on an eye-witness account in Dutch of the destruction of Ayudhya in 1767 - The Journal of the Siam Society (JSS), Bangkok
Vol. LVI, Part 1, 1968.
 Excavation report of the Dutch Settlement - page 32 (in Thai language).
 Bangkok Post - 18 April 2010 - "Dutch return to Old Siam".
 National News Bureau of Thailand (NNT) - 18 November 2009 - "Information center of Dutch settlement in Thailand to be built".
 A Traveler in Siam in the Year 1655: Extracts from the Journal of Gijsbert Heeck - Barend Jan Terwiel (2008).