Central Jakarta Walk, Jakarta

Central Jakarta Walk (Self Guided), Jakarta

Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, is a massive metropolis and a melting pot of cultures historically inhabiting the city – Asian and European – each leaving their imprint on the local architecture, language, cuisine, etc. Follow this orientation walk to explore some of the key sights of Central Jakarta to learn about the city's eventful past and present.
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Central Jakarta Walk Map

Guide Name: Central Jakarta Walk
Guide Location: Indonesia » Jakarta (See other walking tours in Jakarta)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 9
Tour Duration: 3 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 6.4 Km or 4 Miles
Author: jenny
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Lapangan Merdeka (Freedom Square)
  • Monas (National Monument)
  • Gereja Immanuel (Immanuel Church)
  • Ex-Mahkamah Agung (Old Supreme Court Building)
  • Gereja Katedral (Cathedral Church)
  • Istiqlal Mosque
  • Pasar Baru
  • Istana Merdeka (Presidential Palace)
  • Istana Negara (State Palace)
Lapangan Merdeka (Freedom Square)

1) Lapangan Merdeka (Freedom Square) (must see)

Lapangan Merdeka or Freedom Square is the largest and most popular square in Jakarta. Placed in central Jakarta, the Merdeka Square measures one square kilometer and it is divided into four major areas corresponding to the four cardinal points. Thus, Taman Medan Merdeka Utara is located in the North and features a bust of Chairil Anwar (local poet) and an equestrian statue of Diponegoro (Javanese prince who opposed Dutch colonization). The Taman Medan Merdeka Timur is located in the East and features a statue of Kartini (Indonesian heroine) and a reflecting pond. On the South there is the Taman Medan Merdeka Selatan where tourists can admire a spotted deer park and a plant collection representing 33 Indonesian provinces. The parking lots and food stalls are concentrated here, too. Last but not least, the Taman Medan Merdeka Barat is located on the Western part and features the famous musical fountain. Magical shows are held here every night during the weekends, when the fountain is illuminated.

In the center of Lapangan Merdeka stands the National Monument, while numerous other touristic and administrative buildings trim the square. Merdeka Palace, Istiqlal Mosque and the National Museum of Indonesia are only few of the buildings with important touristic value located near Merdeka Square.
Monas (National Monument)

2) Monas (National Monument) (must see)

Designed by architects Frederich Silaban (the same architect who designed Istiqlal Mosque) and R.M. Soedarsono and built during the first Indonesian president, Sukarno, the Monas or National Monument is meant to commemorate the Indonesian people who fought for the national independence. The monument encapsulates Indonesian symbols such as the rice pestle (the upper part of the monument) and the mortar (the lower part of the monument), the numbers 17, 8 and 45 (August 17th, 1945 – the date when Indonesia’s Independence was proclaimed) and a gold plated flame called the Independence Flame, a pledge that the country will always remain an independent territory.

The monument measures 132 meters in height and features a larger part at the bottom (interpreted as the mortar or the yoni – female reproductive organs) and a high upper part (representing the pestle or the lingga – the phallus). In traditional beliefs, the monument is also a sign of people’s fertility and its power of surviving throughout the time.

The lower part hosts a History Museum where tourists can admire sequences of Indonesia’s history, starting with prehistory and ending with the declaration of Independence; there is also an Independence Hall where a copy of the Proclamation of Indonesia’s Independence is displayed.

The top part offers tourists a panoramic view over Jakarta. In sunny days, the ocean and Salak Mountain can be admired from the Observation Platform located on top of the monument, near the gold plated flame.
Gereja Immanuel (Immanuel Church)

3) Gereja Immanuel (Immanuel Church) (must see)

A classic building in the Palladian style with Roman and Greek elements, the Immanuel Church is the oldest Protestant church in Jakarta. Formerly known by the name of Willemskerk in honor of King Wilhelm I of the Netherlands, the church was built in 1835 under the rule of the above mentioned king. The church’s name was changed to Immanuel (“God be with us”) in 1948, after Indonesia gained its independence.

From an architectural point, the Gereja Immanuel boasts an incredible equilibrium and symmetry which give rise to an elegant and imposing silhouette. The building is structured on two stories, with the first one used for the religious ceremonies and the second one hosting the old organ (dating back from 1843).

Apart from the imposing architecture and the old, yet functional organ, a highly sought for attraction is the Bible printed in 1748, one of the oldest exemplars in the world.

Visits inside the church are permitted, but in order to fully experience the feeling this old church gives you and hear the organ play, it is recommended to attend a service here. The service is held in Bahasa Indonesia, English and Dutch.

The Gereja Immanuel is located near the Gambir Train Station, in the Gambir neighborhood, central Jakarta.
Ex-Mahkamah Agung (Old Supreme Court Building)

4) Ex-Mahkamah Agung (Old Supreme Court Building)

Ex-Mahkamah Agung or the Old Supreme Court Building is one of the remarkable monuments built during Dutch colonization. The Supreme Court displays a fine Roman style with splendidly crafted columns dating back from 1848 (the inauguration year). The building is adjacent to the white house of the Ministry of Finance, which used to be part of the complex.

The Ex-Mahkamah Agung, which has witnessed some of the most important justice resolutions, has functioned as Supreme Court during Dutch colonization as well as after the proclamation of Indonesia’s Independence. Nowadays, the Supreme Court has moved in the Freedom Square, next to the National Monument. Still, visitors can enjoy the elegant silhouette of the Ex-Mahkamah Agung, with its white columns and stylish architecture featuring European elements. A visit inside the building is possible and it is free of charge. However, a written notice is required three days in advance.
Gereja Katedral (Cathedral Church)

5) Gereja Katedral (Cathedral Church) (must see)

Jakarta Cathedral Church or Gereja Santa Maria Pelindung Diangkat Ke Surga (the Church of Our Lady of Assumption) is a Catholic Cathedral built in neo-classical style. Located near the Merdeka Palace, at No. Jl.Katedral. 2, the Cathedral is an elegant, yet grandiose establishment featuring cast iron steeples, red brick body, teak wood shelter and stone pillars in Roman styles. It measures 60 meters in height and 10 in width, with an extension of 5 meters on each aisle.

The cathedral was finished in 1901, after a decade of halts due mainly to financial problems. Labeled as the largest and most beautiful Christian establishment in Indonesia, the Cathedral is beautifully decorated with paintings and religious sculptures. Above the main entrance, there is a round, colored glass décor symbolizing Virgin Mary. A large Neo-Gothic style organ decorates the southern side of the cathedral.

The building is divided into two stories: the ground floor is dedicated to masses and religious events, while the second floor, originally designed to hold the choir, hosts a small religious museum. Visitors can admire here robes, religious books and relics of the Catholic rituals. In the back of the church there is a small candle factory which can also be visited.
Istiqlal Mosque

6) Istiqlal Mosque (must see)

Boasting the world's most numerous community of Muslims (90% of the country’s population declared Islam as their religion), Indonesia is also home to the largest Mosque in the South East Asia. The Istiqlal Mosque was built between 1961 and 1978, after a project designed by Frederich Silaban, whose main theme was Ketuhanan or Divinity.

The Mosque was raised as a sign of gratitude for God’s help in obtaining Indonesia’s independence, hence its name, Istuqlal, which means “Independence” in Arabic.

Located in the city center, almost opposite the National Cathedral, the Mosque is also meant to be a symbol of peace and religious tolerance. Both monuments are placed near Merdeka Square, suggesting a total harmony between the mundane and the spiritual world.

An architectonic masterpiece, the Mosque can accommodate approx. 120,000 people in all praying areas. The building features 5 stories, a praying area covered with a 45m dome and a main entrance covered with a 10m dome. The minaret is 90 meters high and it is entirely covered in white marble. When not fully occupied, the praying areas are meant for religious lessons and instruction. Apart from the praying areas, the Mosque also features numerous bazaars, spaces for conferences and religious events. During Ramadan, pilgrims receive meals and accommodation inside the Mosque.

Visitors can admire the marble-covered exterior from different parts of the city, but can also take a tour of the Mosque. Non-Muslim visitors are not allowed inside the main praying hall, though.
Pasar Baru

7) Pasar Baru

Pasar Baru is one of the oldest markets in Jakarta. In this market you can find fashion products, shoes, bags, even salon equipment at low prices.
Istana Merdeka (Presidential Palace)

8) Istana Merdeka (Presidential Palace)

Istana Merdeka or Presidential Palace is part of the administrative complex located in central Jakarta, Indonesia. The Merdeka Palace, along with Istana Negara, has functioned as administrative and residential building for the supreme forces of the state. Built in the 19th century, Istana Merdeka (originally known under the name of Koningsplein Paleis) has accommodated 15 Dutch governor-generals, 3 Japanese military commanders and one president (President Soekarno). Succeeding presidents used Merdeka as residence only occasionally. Yet, the palace is still used for official reunions, receiving the Letter of Credence from foreign embassies, national and international congresses, welcoming foreign officials and heads of state and other formal events.

Apart from administrative role, the neoclassic building has also a highly important role in Indonesia’s history as it is the place where the country independence was signed. The ceremony of lowering the Dutch flag and rising the Indonesian one was held in front of the Palace, thousands of people yelling “Merdeka! Merdeka!” (which means freedom).

The building’s exterior can be admired from the Merdeka Square, while the inside of the building can be visited under strict rules of security. Special checking will be performed and only persons dressed decently will be allowed inside. Women wearing trousers are not granted access into the building.
Istana Negara (State Palace)

9) Istana Negara (State Palace)

Located opposite the Merdeka Palace and facing the Ciliwung River, in an exquisite neighborhood of old Batavia, Istana Negara or State Palace is a neoclassic building originally featuring two stories. The Negara Palace was built in 1796 and served as accommodation for J. A. van Braam, a Dutch businessman. In 1820 the building was sold to the Dutch authorities and became the official residence of the General-Governor during his stay in Batavia.

In 1848, the second story was demolished and the ground floor was enlarged so as to make the building more suitable for formal events and diplomatic meetings.

Along the time, Negara Palace witnessed two of Indonesia’s highly important historical events: the declaration of cultuurstelsel system under the Governor Graaf van den Bosch and the ratification of Indonesia’s declaration of Independence by the Dutch authorities on March 25th, 1947 (the Linggarjati Agreement).

Nowadays Istana Negara serves as a venue for official meetings, presidential visits and state affairs. Banquets and formal events are also held inside the Negara Palace.

Visitors are allowed only after a thorough check. Women wearing trousers are not granted access into the palace.

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