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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.

Fatahillah square
The old city center near Sunda Kelapa

The center of control in old-Batavia was located on some distance of the harhor at a square, which is now known as Taman Fatahillah. The founders of the city ordered a splendid city hall to be built. Square and buildings were restored between 1972 and 1975, part of a big project aimed on saving Jakarta's historical places. The colonial buildings became museums.

The city hall, on the northern side of the square, houses the Museum Sejara Jakarta Fatahillah, a history museum in which old maps and antiques from the colonial times are shown to the public. The 37 beautifully decorated rooms still have the atmosphere of the V.O.C.-times. The city hall was rebuilt three times, the last time in 1710, and served at courthouse, city council and prison.
A big collection of wayang puppets from all over Indonesia is being displayed in the Wayang Museum, Jalan Pintu Besar Utara 27, at the west side if the Fatahillah Square. In early ages the New Dutch Church was located here. This was replaced by warehouses in 1808. At the back gravestones from Dutch people from the company-time can be seen.

In the former palace of justice the museum of Arts and Keramics (Balai Senu rupa Jakarta & Museum Keramik) is being housed. The building from 1870 is neoclassical and contains a collection antique porcelain which vice-President Adam Malik left to Jakarta, as well as modern Indonesian paintings.

Besides restaurant Fatahillah, at the north side of the square, the cannon of fertility (Si Jagur>) can be found. The Portuguese cannon was taken to Batavia after the conquest of Malaka in 1641. From the back of the cannon, a fist with it's thumb between index finger and middle finger, a pose that is considered obscene in Indonesia as well. Childless women have the habit to sit down on the barrel of the cannon, in the hope to get pregnant.

The quarter south of Fatahillah was redeveloped in the 19th and 20th century. An exception was Gereja Sion, or the Portuguese church at Jalan Pangeran Jayakarta, east of station Kota. The church was built by Mardijkers in 1695 (from 'Merdeka', which means independence), and people from Portuguese-Indian or African origin, which were taken to Batavia as slaves in the 17th century. At the end of the 17th century they got their freedom, when they went away from Catholicism and turned to Protestantism under pressure. The church, the oldest in Jakarta, originally had benches and copper chandlers.

Location map of Fatahillah square

Last revised on January 03, 2010
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