WanderlustOdysseyFort Marlborough: The Largest Fort in Southeast Asia

Fort Marlborough: The Largest Fort in Southeast Asia

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Despite the lack of information on tourist attractions in Bengkulu, the province is undeniably brimming with natural landscapes, cultural destinations and historical spots. Among the various tourist attractions in Bengkulu, a visit to one of the most popular ones, the historical site of Fort Marlborough, is not to be missed. 

Fort Marlborough, or locally known as Benteng Marlborough, is located in Bengkulu and was built in 1713-1719 by the East India Company. It became the seat of British power in Bengkulu after its construction was finished, replacing the nearby Fort York, of which nothing but the foundations remain. During the period of construction, the civil officers and the military garrison were divided between the old and the new fort. The latter then served not only as a bastion of the British territory on the west coast of Sumatra, but also a place from which the British controlled their monopoly of pepper trade. 

The fort was built on an artificial hill and constructed using both convict and local labor. The architecture of Fort Marlborough is similar to a turtle. A bridge connects the head and body, another bridge over the moat that forms the tail, and the bridge that connects the entrance to the outside. Despite its sturdy defenses, the fort was attacked and overrun twice, once by a local rebellion just after its completion in 1719, and then by the French in 1760.

The attacks, however, never quite brought the fort down. Fort Marlborough still stands firmly covering 44,100 m² of land until today, facing to the south and back to the Indian Ocean. It will stand until an unforeseen time in the future, serving as a grand reminder of Indonesia’s colonial past. 

photos by
Ministry of Tourism