Fort Zeelandia was a fortress built over ten years from 1624 to 1634 by the Dutch East India Company (VOC), in the town of Anping (Tainan) on the island of Formosa (present-day Taiwan), during their 38-year rule over the western part of that island. Although the site was previously named Orange City , Anping City, and Taiwan City, the current name of the site in Chinese is Anping Fort.
During the seventeenth century, when Europeans from many countries sailed to Asia to develop trade, Formosa became one of East Asia’s most important transit sites, and Fort Zeelandia an international business center. As trade at the time depended on “military force to control the markets”, the value of Formosa to the Dutch was mainly in its strategic position. “From Formosa the Spanish commerce between Manila and China, and the Portuguese commerce between Macao and Japan could by constant attacks be made so precarious that much of it would be thrown into the hands of the Dutch, while the latter’s dealings with China and Japan would be subject to no interruptions.”
Design and Layout
Fort Zeelandia included an “inner fort” and an “outer fort”. The inner fort was a square and 3-layer construction. The lowest was for storage of ammunition and food. The second features a blank wall. The middle part of each side has a semicircle protruding barrack to strengthen the defense. Above the third story was the administrative center, including offices, garrison and church, all of them independent structures. There were walls on the periphery, with protruding bastion on each of the four corners, armed with cannons; a watch tower was set at the southwest bastion.
The one-story outer fort was a rectangular fort, with bastions on the northwest and southwest corners, armed with several cannons. Inside the outer fort were residences, hospital and houses; the plaza was the commercial area.
Bricks were brought from Java and the mortar consisted of a mixture of sugar, sand, ground seashells and glutinous rice. The fort was designed to be surrounded by three concentric layers of walls and its four corners were built into protruding bastions for better defense.
Dutch bond was used for laying bricks to build Fort Zeelandia. It is created by alternately laying headers and stretchers in a single course to avoid gaps. The next course is laid so that a header lies in the middle of the stretcher in the course below. The Dutch bricks should have a 10-days kilning, the texture is solid and compact, and its color is red.
There were three layers of wall, and a protruding bastion on each of four corners on Fort Zeelandia, in order to expand the defense scope; this is the typical European fort of the 17th century. Inside the fort was the military and administration center, church, garrisons, and jailhouse; outside was the downtown. Between the fort and downtown, there were market, slaughterhouse, gallows, execution ground and city weighing station.