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What to see in Jakarta

Posted by on Apr 15th, 2009
Filed Under: Jakarta


You can choose among places of worship, museums, historic ports, botanic gardens, arts centres or amusement parks, to name a few. Some prominent tourist destinations are the Portuguese Church, the Mesjid Istiqlal Mosque, Monas (National Monument), Gedung Gajah (National Museum), Museum Sejarah Jakarta (Jakarta History Museum), Balai Seni Rupa ( Fine Arts Museum), Taman Ismail Marzuki (Jakarta Arts Centre), the Wayang Museum (Puppet Museum), the Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Beautiful Indonesia Miniature Park), the resort Taman Impian Jaya Ancol, and the Botanical Garden of Bogol.

Portuguese Church

The Portuguese church, also known as the Black Portuguese church or the Gereja Sion, is situated on the Corner of Jalan Jembatan Batu and Jalan Pangeran Jayakarta. The 18th century one level Baroque building offers place to about one thousand worshipers. Plain on the outside, the church has a granite floor, wooden ebony framework, original pipe organ, and 17th century copper chandeliers. The carved furniture was shipped from Formosa (Taiwan) while the wall paintings were designed by merchant Ewout Verhagen from Amserdam. The Portuguese Church was established as a place of worship for the enslaved communities of the Ceylonese and Bengalis. They were shipped from the Portuguese dominated areas in Ceylon and India. Upon conversion to Christianity, the slaves were liberated by the Dutch.

Mesjid Istiqlal Mosque

Located in central Jakarta, this splendid mosque features five levels, rectangular prayer hall, spacious courtyards, and facilities for exhibitions, seminars, conferences, and other cultural and social activities. Its floors, walls, and walkways are covered by marble from Tulungagung, East Java. Offering place to more than a hundred thousand worshipers, the Istiqlal Mosque is the biggest mosque in South East Asia.

The building was constructed between 1961 and 1978 as a symbol of Indonesia`s national independence. Designed under the theme Ketuhanan (divinity), ‘Istiqlal’ celebrates freedom.

Please dress modestly when visiting. Women are advised to wear head scarves.

Other places of worship in Jakarta are: the Catholic Cathedral, the Santa Maria de Fatima Church, the Luar Banang Mosque, the Tubagus Angke Mosque, the Annawir Mosque, the Chinese temple Kim Tek Le, the Borobodur Temple, and many others.

National Monument

The National Monument is situated at the Merdeka Square which is in itself a rare oasis of fountains and greenery in Central Jakarta. Monas represents a marble obelisk commissioned by President Soeharto in the 1960s. It was designed as the Hindu fertility symbol Ligga and Yoni. The cap of the 137 meter tall monument is wrapped in pure gold. The monument is just a few minutes off the Istiqgal Mosque, the Gambir railway, and the National Museum.

National Museum

Built in 1862, the National Museum is the finest of its kind in Southeast Asia. The museum holds an extensive collection of bronze and gold artefacts, stone pieces, costumes, musical instruments, household utensils, and other cultural instruments. Its religious art section contains sculptures salvaged from Javanese, Hindu, Buddhist, and other temples. It holds one of the most superb numismatic collections worldwide. There is an outstanding display of Asian ceramics dating back to the Han dynasty (300 BC to 220 AD). Note that various objects are moved to other specialized galleries, and the National museum is best known for its Asian ceramic collection. Another prominent feature is the front yard elephant statue presented by King Chulalongkorn of Thailand in 1871. This art piece has given the popular name of the museum building: Gedung Gajah (Elephant House).

Museum Sejarah Jakarta

The Jakarta history museum has functioned as an administrative building, law courts, church, and the main prison of the old city of Batavia. Nowadays, its premises recreate the spirit of the Dutch period. Thirty seven rooms display old maps and memorabilia of the Dutch East End Company. There are many antique pieces such as furniture, porcelain, carved screens, paintings, weapons, and old carriages. The museum courtyard houses the monument of Pieter Erbervelt who was tortured and put to death for his alleged plan to massacre the Dutch residents of the city. Right across the cobblestone square stands the Portuguese canon Si Jagur. Childless women come and offer gifts to this symbol of fertility in the hope of bearing children.

Balai Seni Rupa

The neoclassical building of Jakarta`s Fine Arts Museum is situated on Taman Fatahillah in Old Batavia. It hosts more than 400 paintings, sculptures and ceramics. The museum holds a superb display of 19th and 20th century paintings by Indonesian artists. Some featured paintings are “The Regent of Lebak” by Saleh, “Tritura Paramilitary Troops” by Judjojono, and “Self-Portrait” by Affandi. The Museum Keramic section displays a collection of 16th to 20th century Asian and European ceramics, terracotta, and contemporary Indonesian ceramics from Aceh, Bali, Bandung, Jakarta, Lombok, and others. Another featured collection displays traditional sculptures and totems.

Wayang Museum

Situated on the western side of Fatahillah Park, the museum holds one of the largest collections of wayang puppets in Java. The wayang represent flat or three dimensional puppets made of wood or leather. In the past, the puppet character has functioned as the literary expert who was entitled to criticize some delicate social and political questions. Wayang dramatizes the anomalies of life and teaches about its meaning and purpose. The master dalang or puppeteer transmits philosophical and moral knowledge through Hindu epics, based on Mahabharata and Ramayana characters. In the Mahabharata folklore, the Kauravas personify the forces of evil while their cousins Pandavas symbolise the spirit of enlightenment. Ramayana characters are represented by the ideal husband and wife, Rama and Sita, the warrior Kumbakarna, and his evil brother Rawana.

Another traditional style, the wayang golek, has been inspired by Islamic myths.

During performance, the puppets are projected on a shadow screen which is illuminated by a lantern. Traditional gamelan orchestra of 60 to 80 musical instruments accompanies the performance. Percussion instruments such as kettle drums, gongs, and xylophones blend with spike fiddles and flutes. You can hear contrasting powerful sounds and subdued solo performances.

Taman Ismail Marzuki

Known as a focal cultural showcase, this art centre is unique for Indonesia. The building is named after the native composer of patriotic songs Ismail Marzuki. The premises host six outdoor and indoor theatres, two art galleries, academy of performing and visual arts, exhibition halls, an archives building, and a planetarium. There are night performances of the Jakarta Symphony Orchestra, drama plays, traditional dancing, poetry readings, song recitals, art shows, and much more. You can obtain a monthly program from the arts centre, the tourist office, and some major hotels. Events are also found in the Jakarta post.

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah

Covering more than 100 hectares of land, Taman Mini holds pavilions, a bird park, an orchid garden, and a Zoological Museum.

You can take a tour to the Taman Mini Indonesia, a thematic park built by the demised wife of President Soeharto. It is an open air museum situated about 25 kilometres away from Central Jakarta. Taman Mini introduces tourists to the cultural wealth of the Indonesian islands. The archipelago is reproduced in a central lake. Twenty seven pavilions inform of the regional architecture and the forms of art and craft typical for the indigenous cultures. The pavilions displays unique architectural styles such as the Lamin house of the Dayak or the Tongkongan house for civic gatherings. You can also observe cultural dances, Batawi wedding ceremony, or baby head shaving.

Eighty six Heads of Government have visited the park as a sign of respect to Indonesia`s cultural heritage. They planted trees of friendship to commemorate their visits to Taman Mini.

Taman Impian Jaya Ancol

Located in Jakarta bay, Taman Impian is quite an attraction for adults and children alike. The resort hosts an assortment of hotels, restaurants, night clubs, swimming pools and aquariums, an artificial fishing lagoon, a golf course, massage parlours and a steam bath. You can also find a drive-in theatre and a gallery. The art market Pasar Seni offers a variety of Indonesian handcrafts, paintings, and other tourist items.

Bogor

The town of Bogor houses a superbly landscaped botanical garden. Set in nearly 80 hectares of land, the garden boasts an extensive collection of 15,000 species of tropical plants, trees, palms, and charming orchids. Located 64 km away from Jakarta, the garden holds one of the major agricultural institutes in the country. The area has clearly denoted “no litter” signs, and there are only minimal amounts of litter around the garden.

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