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.
The National Monument (Monumen Nasional or short Monas) is a 128.7 meter tower in Central Jakarta, symbolizing the fight for Indonesia's independence. Construction began in 1961 under the direction of President Sukarno and the monument was opened to the public in 1975. It is topped by a flame covered with gold foil.
After the Indonesian government returned to Jakarta from Yogyakarta in 1950 following the Dutch recognition of Indonesian independence, President Sukarno began to contemplate the construction of a national monument comparable to the Eiffel Tower on the square in front of the presidential palace. On 17 August 1954, a National Monument Committee was established and a design competition was held in 1955.
This attracted 51 entries, but only one design, by Frederich Silaban, met any of the criteria determined by the committee, which included reflecting the character of Indonesia in a building capable of lasting for centuries. A repeat competition was held in 1960, but once again, none of the 136 entries met the criteria. The chairman of the jury team then asked Silaban to show his design to Sukarno. However, Sukarno did not like the design as he wanted the monument to be in the form of a linga and yoni.
Silaban was asked to design such a monument, but his design was for a monument so large that it would have been unaffordable given the economic conditions at the time. Silaban refused to design a smaller monument, suggesting that construction be delayed until the Indonesian economy improved. Sukarno then asked the architect R.M. Soedarsono to continue with the design. Soedarsono incorporated the numbers 17, 8 and 45, representing the 17 August 1945 Proclamation of Indonesian Independence, in the dimensions of the monument.
Construction proceeded in three stages. The first period, from 1961/1962 - 1964/1965 began with the official start of construction on 17 August 1961 with Sukarno ceremonially driving in the first concrete pile. A total of 284 piles were used for the foundation block. A further 360 piles were driven in for the museum foundations, with work being completed in March 1962. The walls of the museum in the base were completed by October. Construction of the obelisk than commenced and was finished in August 1963.
Work in the second stage, from 1966 to 1968 was delayed by shortages of funding and the aftermath of the 30 September Movement coup attempt. In the final phase, from 1969-1976, the dioramas for the historical museum were added. Problems remained once construction was complete, and work was needed to solve problems with water leaking into the museum. The monument was officially opened to the public on 12 July 1975. The location of the construction site was formerly known as Merdeka Square.
The monument consists of a 117.7m obelisk on a 45m square platform at a height of 17m, the goblet yard. The obelisk itself is clad with Italian marble. A lift inside carries visitors to the 11m by 11m viewing platform, at a height of 115m. There is also a staircase for use in emergencies. It is topped by a 14.5 ton bronze Flame of Independence containing the lift engine, which is covered with 35kg of gold foil.
The obelisk and flame symbolize the Indonesia people's struggle for independence. Inside the base is the historical museum, a marble-lined room with 48 dioramas depicting scenes from Indonesian history from prehistory until the New Order (Indonesia), and the Independence Room (Indonesian: Ruang Kemerdekaan), which contains symbols of Indonesian independence, including the Declaration of Independence in a glass case, and the Indonesia coat of arms.
A pond measuring 25 by 25m was designed to cool water for the air conditioning system in the monument as well as to enhance the beauty of the surrounding area. To the north of the monument, there is a statue of Indonesia national hero Prince Diponegoro by Italian sculptor Cobertaldo.
How to get there
The monument is located in the center of the square kilometer large Medan Merdeka ('Freedom Square'). The area was open for all access until the late 1990's, when the grassy plain was fenced off and populated with trees to create something of a green lung in the heart of the metropolitan area.
The square is located directly on the west of Gambir train station and is bordered by the National Museum (to the west), the main presidential palace (to the north) and several buildings of state-owned companies and ministries around mainly the western and southern sides. The TransJakarta busway has a stop on the western side, but you can also use one of the many other buses that pass at least one of the sides of the large square.
From the road you will have to walk to the monument, since no vehicles are allowed inside the park anymore, outside some police and military vehicles that seem to be on stand-by forever there. There is a small 'train' available driving around tourists, but it is often crowded with Indonesian tourists, especially during holidays and weekends.
Location map of National Monument
Last revised on February 10, 2010
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