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Jakarta’s Recommended Colonial Sites

Source: Universitas Muhammadiyah Malang

One of the popular forms of tourism in Jakarta is historical tourism. It has been about five centuries since the Dutch colonisation and its buildings in Jakarta still stand to this day, even though it is broken down. Some of them are now preserved and used as tourist destinations. It is certainly suitable for fulfilling the year-end holidays, especially for expats who are history geeks.

The following are a couple of historical tourist destinations recommended for sightseeing. This list is the result of a collaboration between Expat Living Jakarta and the Tentang Silam community.

Sriwijaya Hotel


Jl. Veteran no.1, RT 4/RW 2, Gambir, Kecamatan Gambir, Jakarta Pusat - DKI Jakarta 10110

You can start your exploration with Sriwijaya Hotel. Located at the corner of Jalan Veteran (Riswijk) and Jalan Veteran I (Citadelweg) adjacent to Ragusa Ice Cream and Istiqlal Mosque, few know of this hotel as the oldest hotel in Jakarta. The building was previously a shop owned by Conrad Alexander Willem Cavadino. He started his business in 1863. From an advertisement published in 1894, they were selling a variety of goods: candy, chocolate, as well as Havana, Netherlands and Manila cigars, even beer and other alcoholic beverages.

Cavadino’s business was a massive success. wrote that because of his success, even the bridge in front of the hotel is called Cavadino Bridge. Nine years later, the business grew into an inn called Hotel Cavadino. This inn has changed its name many times. In 1899 it was called Hotel du Lion d’or, then in 1941 it was Park Hotel, and in the 1950s it changed its name again to Hotel Sriwijaya. You can see old pictures of Cavadino Hotel and Shop in their lobby, as well as photos of Batavia’s historical places and buildings. Although there were some changes, the traces of the hotel from the colonial period, still remain.

The Syahbandar Tower

Source: Tourism Information Center

Kota Jakarta Utara. RT20/RW17, Penjaringan, Kecamatan Penjaringan, Jakarta Utara - DKI Jakarta 14440

The Dutch colonial government built this tower around the year 1839 under the name Uitkijk. The tower was a place to monitor ships passing through or stopping by in Sunda Kelapa Harbour of Batavia. This place was also a place to collect taxes for goods that enter Batavia. Its close proximity to Museum Bahari makes Menara Syahbandar a staple in tour guide packages. The location is also relatively close to Museum Fatahillah Jakarta, though it would be much better if there was a designated transportation system between these areas.

The Syahbandar Tower consists of three floors. On the first floor, we can see a 17th-century Chinese merchant stone inscription, which was the kilometre zero (0 Kilometre) of Batavia at that time. On the second floor, there are binoculars that are a century and a half old. These binoculars were used to oversee ships using concave lens which could be lengthened or shortened. The large green windows with their typical colonial style are also still attached in original condition. Because it’s an old building, visitors who can go up to the third floor are limited to 25 people. There, apart from seeing the view of Sunda Kelapa and its surroundings, there is also a painting of how Indonesians monitored ships during the colonial era. They were usually called Ki Demang, or the District Heads.

National Archives Building Gadjah Mada

Source: My Eat and Travel Story

Jl. Gajah Mada no. 111 RT1/RW1, Krukut, Kec, Taman Sari, Jakarta Barat - DKI Jakarta 11140

This building was built in the 18th century for the residence of the VOC Governor-General, Reinier de Klerk. In 1900, the Bataviaasch Genoothschap van Kunsten en Wetenschappen (Batavian Association for the Arts and Sciences) founded by de Klerk, saved this building from the establishment of a commercial area plan. The Dutch East Indies colonial government used this building for the Ministry of Mines in 1925. It became Lands Archief (State Archive) later on, thus becoming the first building for the National Archives of the Republic of Indonesia after independence from the Netherlands.

What makes this archive building so special to visit during year-end holidays? Well, you can walk around and enjoy the beautiful architecture of this colonial-style building. Various antique objects are displayed on old Dutch furnitures and if you’re lucky, you can enjoy a special exhibition organized by the National Archives of the Republic of Indonesia. Last but not least, you can take some pictures in the front yard with the building as background. This yard is also often rented out for wedding ceremonies.

Taman Prasasti Museum

Source: MerahPutih

Jl. Tanah Abang I no.1 RT11/RW8, Petojo Selatan, Gambir, Jakarta Pusat - DKI Jakarta 10160

The final place we recommend is the Taman Prasasti Museum. At first, this museum was an area called Kebon Jahe Kober with 5.5 hectares built in 1795. It was built to replace the grave beside the, at that time, Nieuw Hollandsche Kerk Church, which is now the Wayang Museum. Museum Taman Prasasti has a collection of ancient tomb inscriptions. Then, another unique aspect are the miniatures of tombs from Indonesia’s 27 provinces. The collection is even more complete with their hearse collections.

Of course, the ambience emitted by this museum hits different. Even wrote that one of the benefits to visit this museum the reminder of death, so we can live our life to the fullest. But on the other side, the strong Dutch colonial style from the statues and the grave sculptures is a real work of art. The gloomy, eerie atmosphere combined with the beautifully displayed old-European-style craftsmanship is a great combination that strengthens the personality of the museum, as well as its function - the place to gain historical knowledge and awareness of our mortality as human beings.


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