Bandung is the capital city of West Java, and the third largest city in Indonesia after Jakarta and Surabaya. Nicknamed Parijs van Java (Paris of Java) by the Dutch for its resemblance to Paris and European atmosphere back in colonial times, Bandung also earned another nickname as Kota Kembang, literally meaning the Flower City since Bandung used to have a lot of flowers.
Although the oldest written reference to the city dates back to 1488, there were numerous archaeological finds of Australopithecus (Java Man) that lived on the banks of Cikapundung river and the shores of Bandung's Great Lake. In the 17th-18th century, the Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) created small plantations in Bandung, with a road to Batavia (today's Jakarta) completed in 1786. In 1809, Louis Bonaparte, the ruler of the Netherlands and its colonies, ordered the Dutch Indies Governor H.W. Daendels to improve Java's defences against the threat of the British, who occupied the nearby Malay peninsula. Daendels responded by building the Great Post Road (De Groote Postweg) that stretched about 1000km between the west and the east coasts of Java. Because the north coast had impassable swamps and marshes at the time, the road was diverted through Bandung along what is now Jalan Asia-Afrika. Daendels liked Bandung's strategic location so much that he ordered the capital to be moved there. Military barracks were built and Bupati Wiranatakusumah II, the chief administrator of that area, built his dalem (palace), Masjid Agung (the grand mosque) and pendopo (meeting place) in the classical Javan alun-alun (city square) near a pair of holy city wells (Sumur Bandung) and facing the mystical mountain of Tangkuban Perahu.