These ancient lands with dragons, volcanoes and hidden coral gardens of thousands of years old is actually still an adolescent in a political sense and still on a journey of discovery. With independence only taking place in 1945, there is a real sense of building and encouraging unity within Indonesia and this is reflected in the building and events in this area of the capital city, Jakarta.
The national monument placed in the center of the city, a giant column of Italian marble standing 132 meters high overlooking the financial capital of the archipelago. At the very top, there is a flame of gold, real gold, 35 kg of gold leaf. When seen from above the designers purpose becomes clear, many paths and roads flowing to one point, the clear white marble rising up to one ideal, the flame of truth. Today, it is an impressive monument yet when it was first opened in the mid 70’s it was a monumental achievement as it towered all other building in Jakarta. As Jakarta develops into a city of skyscrapers this symbol seems to be dwarfed by progress.
As a guest, you are able to venture to the observation deck and breath in the whole city. The view can be wonderful if you get a smog and cloud free day. In the base of the National Monument, you will find the National history Museum. This is a museum with 48 dioramas portraying the historic moments in the nations history. Sadly, the museum is not very interactive and does not really put across these events in the most interesting of lights. Yet it does highlight the number of conflicts there were with the colonial power.
When you exit the museums you are in the park that encircles Monas, this is a great place to enjoy at the weekends, as you will find kites, balloons, great street food and throngs of people enjoying the atmosphere. This is especially true on car free days, as 1,000s of people will use this area for running, cycling and gentle strolls.
Surrounding Monas and the park, you will find many governmental buildings including the Presidential Palace (Istana Merdeka) on the north side. It is possible to have a limited tour around the Palace as long as the President is not entertaining foreign dignitaries. The palace itself was once known as Koningsplein Paleis and first opened its doors in 1879. It has been home to 15 Dutch governors, 3 Japanese commanders and the first Indonesian President. Today, you can tour the beautiful gardens and interior, guided tours at the weekends. Dress for the occasion (Ladies are not permitted to wear trousers) and expect a thorough search before entering the grounds. Only 25 people per group are allowed so register in advance at the Secretary of State Office.
Another port of call is Gedung Pancasila on Jalan Pejambon. In 1830, this building was finished to hold the Dutch Army Command Center yet this was strategically chosen by Indonesia’s first president as the place to deliver the speech that set out the foundation for the constitution of Indonesia in 1945. This was a clear sign of intentions that foreign rule would no longer be possible or able.
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