The National Museum, built in 1862, is the best museum in Indonesia and is reputedly one of the finest in Southeast Asia. The museum has an enormous collection of cultural objects of the various ethnic groups-costumes, musical instruments, model houses, numerous fine bronzes from the Hindu-Javanese period, as well as many interesting stone pieces salvaged from Central Java and other temples. (Monday & Public Holidays closed. Visit the National Monument instead).
Glodok is the center of Jakarta’s China Town. It is now banking, hawkers, trading and entertainment center. Visit to Petak Sembilan Chinese temple (build around 1650), it was on of the earliest center of worship for the Batavian Chinese.
KOTA INTAN DRAWBRIDGE
At the north end of the Kali Besar lays a small 17th century Dutch drawbridge, the last in the city, called the Kota Intan Drawbridge.
SUNDA KELAPA HARBOR
This 500-year-old harbor area was a vital link to the markets of the outside world for the 15th Century kingdom of Padjadjaran. Since then this port has belonged to the Portuguese and Dutch. The magnificent and brightly painted Makassar schooner called Pinisi are still an important means of transporting goods to and from the outer islands.
Sunda Kelapa was a major sea port for hundreds of years, dating back to the Sunda Kingdom. It eventually became the gateway to Batavia – the headquarters of the Dutch East India Company.
Today, it is a minor port used by Pinisi – traditional wooden schooners that transport freight throughout Indonesia. Wondering around Sunda Kelapa, watching the sailors walking on and off the ships via very narrow planks, as they manually load and unload cargo, is a bit like stepping back in time.
Near the entrance you’ll find the Maritime Museum. The museum is in a former Dutch East India Company warehouse that was built over 300 years ago. It houses a collection of traditional boats, antique maritime equipment, old weapons, photographs, a variety of scale models, and other objects that reflect Indonesia’s maritime heritage. It’s open from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.
The watchtower is near the museum. It was built around 200 years ago to direct traffic in the busy harbor. There are no posted opening hours, but it is open from time to time.
A little farther on is an old shack with a hand painted sign reading, “Tourist Information.” The only information available is from the proprietor who takes tourists on guided tours. There really isn’t much you need a guide for – you’re free to walk around all you want to. Just looking at the schooners, and watching the activity is the most interesting thing.
I did talk one guy up on his offer to take me out on his small boat for a tour, which was worth doing to get a different view. I also had several invitations from sailors to board their ships, which was great fun. The sailors seemed to like hosting visitors, and talking about their schooners.
Fatahillah Square (Taman Fatahillah) was the town square of the Dutch settlement of Batavia, and is where the most well preserved buildings from that era are located in Jakarta. Today, Fatahillah square is a busy place – it has a constant carnival atmosphere created by the Jakartans who gather there to hang out with friends and enjoy the variety of traditional food available. Three of Jakarta’s best Museums are located here.
The Wayang (Puppet) Museum is on the west side of Fatahillah Square has an excellent collection of leather and wooden Indonesian puppets from all over the country. Wayang theater is an inherent aspect of Indonesian culture. There is a regular Wayang performance on Sunday mornings. It is open from 9:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Tuesday to Sunday.
The Jakarta Historical Museum is on the north side of the square. Completed in the early 1700’s, it is in the former City Hall of Batavia. It has 37 rooms plus some dungeons below. Furniture, artwork, maps, memorabilia, and other artifacts are on display that document the evolution of Jakarta.
Si Jagur – a Portuguese cannon sits in front of the Historical Museum. It was believed to bring fertility, so women hoping for a child would sit on its barrel.
The Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics is on the east side of the square. It has over 400 exhibits of rare paintings, sculpture, Batik paintings, and ceramics.
Built in the 16th century, the museum is housed in the old town hall of Batavia, which is probably one of the most solid reminders of Dutch rule to be found in Indonesia. Fatahillah Square is located in North Jakarta (Kota). It’s easiest to get there by taxi – cost about Rp 40,000 from Central Jakarta. (Monday & Public Holidays closed. Visit the antique and flea market in Jalan Surabaya instead).
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