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Jakarta (DKI Jakarta) is the capital and largest city of Indonesia. Located on the northwest coast of Java, it has an area of 661 square kilometers and a population of 8,490,000. Jakarta is the country's economic, cultural and political center. It is the most populous city in Indonesia and Southeast Asia, and is the twelfth-largest city in the world. The metropolitan area, Jabodetabek, is the second largest in the world.

Historic trip
Historic trip through the old city

Jakarta has developed from the north to the south, seen in an historical way. Places of interest can best be visited in a chronological way. Start with the old harbor in the north, and then go south towards the old V.O.C.-headquarters (Kota) and the Chinese quarter (Glodok), to end the journey at Medan Merdeka ('Freedom Square'), or in one of the new suburbs. Take half a day for every part.

The Chinese quarter Glodok

Chinese always played an important role in Indonesias economy. After the massacre of 1740, in which about 5000 Chinese were killed, the Chinese were appointed a special area south of the old city walls. It is now known as Glodok. The use of Chinese writing is allowed in Indonesia since shortly after the fall of Suharto in May 1998, but until then, signs which are representative for Chinatowns all over the world couldn't be found here. Chinese architecture can be found everywhere in the network of small streets and alleys behind Glodok Plaza, filled with merchands, food stalls (warung-warung) and shops.

The Dharma Jaya temple of Jin-de Youan (Temple of the Golden Good) at jalan Petak Sembilan is one of the oldest and biggest Chinese religional places of Batavia. The temple was built around 1650, and was meant to honor Kuan Yin (Guanyin), the goddess of mercy. The temple Candra Naya, at jalan Gajah Mada 188, is housed in the former landhouse if merchand So Bing Kong. In 1619 he became leader of the Chinese community and intermediary between Chinese and the first three governors of the VOC. His gravetombe can be found in a house at Gang Taruna.

Many 'Batavian' Chinese became islamic before the 20th century and Glodok also has a number of old Chinese mosques. South of the National Archive, at the corner of jalan Hayam Wuruk en jalan Kebon Jeruk is the Kebon Jeruk-mosque, built in 1785 or 1786. The style of building is an extraordinary mixture of islamic, Chinese and Dutch influences. Another Chinese 18th-century mosque, Mesjid Krukut, is located at jalan Kebahagiaan, at the corner of jalan Kejayaan 1.

In the 18th century rich Europeans and Chinese settled outside the city walls in the big gardens in the south. At the place where jalan Gajah Mada and jalan Hayam Wuruk are today, they built big Dutch landhouses. The only remained one is at jalan Gajah Mada 111, in the nowadays city centre. It was built for Reinier de Klerk in 1760, the later governor-general. In 1844 it was rebuild into an orphanage and in 1925 it housed the country archive. In 1979 a restauration took place.

The quarter south of jalan Gajah Mada is also know as 'Harmonie' (Harmony), after the society with the same name, the biggest in South-East Asia. In 1979 it was demolished because traffic was expanding, a square was built at jalan Majapahit. Construction was started under governor-general Deandels (1808-1811). In 1815, during Stamford Raffles, the society was completed. The 'Harmony' became the meeting place for the rich elite of the colonial society.

At the other side of the traffic-square, at the corner, the earlier popular fashion designers Oger Frères worked. Their building, which is now a travel agency, was in the centre of the elegant, rich European-looking city, which developed in the 19th century. Only the statue of Hermes on the railing of the bridge does remind of that period. He is not watching the passing cars, and still holds his globe, which is degraded to a football.

Medan Merdeka and Monas

Medan Merdeka, Square of Independence, is a big field in the centre of Jakarta, every side of it surrounded with wide boulevards with governmental buildings. In the time of Deandels it served as an excersition field ; before that, cattle grazed on it. In 1818 it became the centre of power from Batavia under the name 'Koningsplein', (Kings Square) In the sixties the masses listened to anti-imperialistic and national speeches of Sukarno.

In the middle of the square is Monas (short for Monumen Nasional, National Monument). The 137 metre high obelisk, which was build in order of Sukarno in 1964, carries a bronze flame (the flame of the Indonesian nationalism), which is covered with 35 kilos'of pure gold.Monas is the most remarkable orientation point and the non-official symbol of Jakarta. With clear weather, the top of the obelisk offers a good view over the city. The top can be reached by elevatior. A museum is built in the feet of the structure, it offers 48 diarama's which show the history of Indonesia.

The 'Museum Nasional', the National Museum at the west side of the square was founded in 1778 by the 'Bataviaasch Genootschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen' (Batavian Society of Arts and Science), is the oldest in Indonesia. The building itself is in desparate need of a restauration, and also need an reorganisation. The showcases show numerous of treasures: the famous skull of the Jawa-man, the famous stones and bronze statues and inscriptions from the Hindu-Javanese period, the treasury room with golden and silver opjects, and the department bronze objects. The Ganesha Society organises interesting guided-tours in the morning. The first floor offers keramics from Chinas, Annam, Thailand, Persia and Euroe, the earlies collection of E.W. van Orsoy de Flines (1886-1964).

At the north of the Merdeka square two mayor presidential palaces are built. The most northern building is Istana Negara, the State palace, the former Palace Rijswijk. It was built in 1796 by Jacob Andries van Braam and server as residence of the governor-generals since 1820. Between 1873 and 1879 a new, bigger, palace was being built at the Koningsplein, now jalan Medan Merdeka Utara, 'Paleis Koningsplein' ('Palace Kingssquare'). The official tranfer of sovereignty took place on 27 December 1949 took place in this palace. Since then, the palace is called Istana Merdeka, Palace of Independence. Officialy it's the residence of the current President, but it is not used for that purpose. Suharto, in his time, preferred his house in Menteng area.

Between Wilhelminapark and Menteng

Mesjid Istiqlal at the east side of jalan Medan Merdeka Utara was opened for public in 1978, and is the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia. On the place of the mosque, the former 'Wilhelminapark' used to be 'Fort Noordwijk' (fortress Noordwijk), which was broken down in 1809. More south a monument was built later to remember the Aceh-war, which was removed during Suharto's reign.

However an overwhelming part of Indonesias population is islamic, other religions are also officially recognized. There are important Christian comunitios, mostly in Eastern Indonesia. This recognition is especially used inside the churches, which surround the big mosque. At Jalan Katedral the catholic cathedral with black towers can be found. The cathedral was built in 1901 in neo-classical style to the design of architect C.J. Hulswit.

More to the south, at the corner of Jalan Pejambon, the Gereja Imanuel is located, the former calvinistic Willemskerk, named after king Willem I. The neo-classical building was built between 1835 and 1839, to a design of J.H. Horst. It offers a wide variety of old Dutch silver. In the more southern Menteng, just across Hotel Aryaduta Hyatt at Jalan Ptrepatan, is the All Saints Church (English Church) from 1829, with nice decorated windows.

Between the cathedral and Hotel Borobudur is Lapangan Banteng (Buffalo Field), the former Waterlooplein (Square Waterloo), with an enormous statue of a handcoffed man which breaks his chains. It was built from molten Dutch coins to order of Sukarno in 1963, to rememberance of the liberation of Irian Jaya. Until 1820 landhouse Weltevreden could be found south of the Waterlooplein, it belonged to governor-general Mossel. In 1857, the military hospital was built, which is still in use as military hospital as of today. East of the square, now Lapangan Benteng Timur, Deandels started with the construction of a palace, 'het Witte Huis'(the White House), the Department of Finance today. besides the neo-classical Mahkamah Agung or higher court, which dates back to 1848. At Jalan Taman Pejambon is Gedung Pancasila. This neo-classical buiolding from 1829 served as headquarters of the KNIL, and after 1917 as seat of the Volksraad (People's Council). Because Sukarno did his famous Pancasila-speech in this building, it was declared an national monument later on. North of Lapangan Banteng is Gedong Kesenian, the former municipal theathre from 1821. After the war a cinema was built, but after a good restauration the building got it's original destination back. The Pasar Baru or Nieuwmarkt (New Market), is on the other side of the canal. In the many shops everything is for sale, from textile to computers.

Picture: Jalan Thamrin

Menteng, south of Medan Merdeka, is a big, quiet, green quarter with colonial houses, modern expensife villa's and embassies. The diplomats and CEO's live in this area. Right through the heart of Menteng is Jalan Diponegoro, the most expensife street in Jakarta. At side street of Jalan Surabaya is a flee market with numerous stalls full with ántiques', the most new imitations and all kinds of other things.

The suburbs

Jalan Jendela Sudirman, the wide, busy boulevard which runs from Menteng due south is the golden street of Jakarta. The shining towers of steel and glass house banks and big internationals. The statue of a smiling man which holds something that most looks like a hot plate , Pizza Man, if asked at people. He marks the southern end of Jalan Sudirman. Here starts the satellite city of Kebayoran Baru, which more looks like a suburbian area, with shopping mall Blok M Plaza. Further south is the new suburb of Pondok Indah, full of expensife villa's. The nouveaux riches have built their big houses and country clubs on what used to be rice fields not too long ago. In the quarter Pasar Minggu, at the southern border of Jakarta, about 15 kilometres from the city's centre, Ragunan zoo is located. In this nature park, opened from 9.00 to 18.00, it's nice to have a walk or a picnic between all kinds of flora and fauna. Weekends are usually overcrowded.

Another busy Sunday place to be in the southern part of the city is Taman Mini Indonesia Indah (Nice Indonesia Miniature Park), a park of 100 hectares in which all different building styles from all over the archipelago are displayed. Start with Keong Mas, the form of a extraordinary snails house, for a magnificent journey on film through Indonesia on a giant screen. The park also offers a museum, an orchid garden and a birdpark.

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