Singaraja – Bali’s Historic Dutch Capital

First contact between the Netherlands and Bali took place in 1597 with the arrival of Dutch explorer Cornelis de Houtman who, with his surviving crew of 89 men, promptly proclaimed the island “Young Holland”. There had been sporadic European contacts before and since, but nothing notable until 1846 when the Dutch took control of most of the Indonesian archipelago under the banner of the Dutch East Indies. At this time the port city of Singaraja located in north of the island was chosen as the seat of Dutch power in Bali. The Dutch maintained control over the island from their stronghold of Singaraja in Bali’s northern regency of Buleleng, but were unable to completely subdue the restive southern regions until a series of major military operations in 1906 to 1908.

Today Singaraja bears all the marks of an an old colonial city with wide tree-lined streets and Dutch colonial architecture. In addition to Dutch influences, Singaraja has also been visited by many other naval powers, as is evident from the many Arab and Chinese influences in Singaraja’s old dock district. Singaraja is home to a rare Chinese Buddhist temple, of which only a handful exist in Bali.

In Addition to being one of Bali’s most multicultural cities, Singaraja is an educational centre with two university campuses and is also home to some excellent warungs and restaurants and a traditional market-place seldom visited by Westerners. Another major attraction in Singaraja is the Gedong Kirtya Museum and Library, which hosts ancient Balinese manuscripts and sacred texts on leaves of the lontar palm and a treasure trove of books from the Dutch colonial era.

Situated in Bali’s north shore, Singaraja is a mere 11 kilometres from Lovina Beach, the major tourist base in all of North Bali. The ancient Balinese capital of Singaraja, locally called Lion City, is just one of the many attractions in close proximity to Lovina. Lovina Beach is home to some of the finest hotels and tourist accommodations in north Bali, as well as the site of Lovina Beach Resort, the area’s only five-star beachfront resort.