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Surabaya is Indonesia's second-largest city, and the capital of the province of East Java. It is located on the northern shore of eastern Java at the mouth of the Mas River and along the edge of the Madura Strait. To Indonesians, it is known as "the city of heroes", due to the importance of the Battle of Surabaya in galvanising Indonesian and international support for Indonesian independence during the Indonesian National Revolution.

The old city of Surabaya
Chinese quarters and colonial buildings

North of the triangle Jalan Tunjungan - Pemuda - Kaliasin are the old quarters of Surabaya. On Jalan Pahlawan is the Monument of the Heroes (Tugu Pahlawan) dating back to the fifties. It is built for the bravery of the youths of Surabaya during the battle of Surabaya. At this famous Surabaya got itís nickname 'City of Heroesí. East of the square is the colonial governors house which partially dates back to the thirties.

From here the route goes back in time. Walk towards the north over Jalan Veteran (used to be Jalan Niaga, the colonial buildings date from the 1920ís) to Jembatan Merah, the Red Bridge, in the centre of the former trading quarter. The color of the bridge came from the fight between the shark and the crocodile, at least, thatís the story.

Jalan Kembang Jepun ('Japanese Flowers'), east of the bridge got itís name because of the houses with Japanses prostitutes (karayuki-san). Now itís a business district, and also the center of Surabayaís big Chinese quarter. Just south of the Kembang Jepun at Jalan Sompretan is the Hok An Kiong temple, built in the 18th century by Chinese traders to honour Mazu, the protection goddess of the sailors.

The only pure Confucian temple of Indonesia, built in 1907, is at Jalan Kapasan. The Sunday mass is similar to the Christian mass; this influence dates back to the turn of the last century when Chinese students of Chinese missionaries reformed the population.

In this neighborhood is also the Klenteng Bukuh (Hok Tik Hian) where daily shows are given with hand-dolls from Fukien (potehi). The accultation is big, the players - which speak Hokkien - and the musicians who are mainly Javanese. The parking attendant who sells the dolls is from Madura.

An even more crazy example of the blending of religion and culture in Surabaya is Jalan Panggung, where old Chinese totok's are besides Islamic houses of prayer. Walking among other people you will arrive at Pasar Pabean, an enormous market where traders trade in goods from the countryside, seafood, spices, perfumes and semi gems, like it has gone fot centuries.

Further north the Jalan Kyai Mas Mansyur takes you directly to the past of Surabaya: the heart of the Arabic quarter, with a kashba-air. The gate which dresses up Jalan Ampel Suci leads to the Mesjid Sunan Ampel, the oldest mosques of the city. The grave of the names of the mosque is at the back, Sunan Ampel, one of the nine legendary heroes wali which the Islam took to Java in the 15th century.
Just north of the Arabic quarter is the historical harbor Kali Mas. For centuries it was visited by sailboats from all over the archipelago. Even now the robust pinisi-ships from South Sulawesi can be seen here. They anchor on the two kilometre wide quay west of the modern seaport area Tanjung Perak, not open for public.

Jalan Kapasari (bach to Jalan Kapasan and then right) has a flea market which attracts many visitors on Sundays.

More south the street is names Jalan Kasumabansa; here is the THR, Surabaya's center of shopping and enjoyment for the big audience. Covered- and outside theaters bring traditional dance, and modern music to the visitors. Besides is Taman Remaja Surabaya (Surabaya Youth Park), a non stop pasar ('market'). Very interesting is the show of transvestites which is held on Thursday evenings. With their best voices they sing songs on which young guys try to dance.

Last revised on December 04, 2009
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