Jakarta



































JAKARTA, A CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS

Capital of the Republic of Indonesia, Jakarta is a huge, sprawling metropolis, home to 9 million people. During the day the number increases with another 2 million as commuters making their way to work in the city, and flock out again in the evenings. Located on the northern coast of Java, the province of Jakarta has rapidly expanded through the years, absorbing many villages in the process.

In fact, Jakarta is a conglomeration of villages known as kampung, now crossed by main roads and super highways. It is small wonder therefore, that you may drive down one wide avenue one minute then suddenly find yourself squeezed into a small street together with scores of cars and motorbikes. Together with its many suburbs Jakarta has become a megapolitan city. Therefore, when you visit Jakarta it is best to invest in a good map, or rely on GPS.

As capital city of a Indonesia, Jakarta is not only the seat of the national government and the provincial government, this city is also Indonesia’s political center. Moreover, Jakarta is also the center and hub of Indonesia’s national finance and trade. It is no wonder, therefore that you will find Jakarta an ever dynamic city, a city that never sleeps.

Get There

Jakarta has two international airports, one is the larger Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, located in Tangerang, now in the neighbouring province of Banten. The other is the smaller Halim Perdanakusuma Airport, which is reserved to limited domestic flights.

Get Around

The best way to travel around Jakarta is by hired car, taxi or by package tour. Be prepared, though, to meet traffic jams, especially when travelling during peak hours and into business districts, including the area to the Old Batavia.

It is advisable therefore to choose a hotel near the location where you will have your meeting or business appointments or to the attraction or destination you wish to visit. Distances in Jakarta are far and there are frequent traffic snarls.


Historic Jakarta

Pre-colonial, Colonial, Independence, and Modern Indonesia
The oldest part of Jakarta lies on the North West coast of Java where the Ciliwung river pours out into the Bay of Jakarta.

This harbour town was first known as Sunda Kelapa. But on 22 June 1527 Prince Fatahillah razed Sunda Kelapa and founded the town of Jayakarta on the same site. This is the date that Jakarta takes as the establishment of the city. Jayakarta was a thriving port where traders from China, India, Arabia and later the Europeans, as well as those from all over the archipelago exchanged their wares.

In 1619, the Dutch VOC under Jan Pieterszoon Coen destroyed Jayakarta and built a new town on the west bank of the Ciliwung river, which he named Batavia, after the Batavieren, the Dutch tribal ancestors. Batavia was planned similar to Dutch towns, in a series of blocks cut by canals and defended by a fortified wall and a moat. This part of Batavia was completed in 1650. Old Batavia was where the Europeans lived, while the Chinese, Javanese and other indigenous groups were relegated outside the city entrenchment.

In its heydays, Batavia became known as the Jewel of the East, the seat of the VOC and later it became the seat of the Dutch Government over the sprawling East Indies archipelago. During the Japanese occupation in 1942, the Japanese again changed the name from Batavia to Jakarta.

In 1619, the Dutch VOC under Jan Pieterszoon Coen destroyed Jayakarta and built a new town on the west bank of the Ciliwung river, which he named Batavia, after the Batavieren, the Dutch tribal ancestors. Batavia was planned similar to Dutch towns, in a series of blocks cut by canals and defended by a fortified wall and a moat. This part of Batavia was completed in 1650. Old Batavia was where the Europeans lived, while the Chinese, Javanese and other indigenous groups were relegated outside the city entrenchment.

In its heydays, Batavia became known as the Jewel of the East, the seat of the VOC and later it became the seat of the Dutch Government over the sprawling East Indies archipelago.

During the Japanese occupation in 1942, the Japanese again changed the name from Batavia to Jakarta.

In its heydays, Batavia became known as the Jewel of the East, the seat of the VOC and later it became the seat of the Dutch Government over the sprawling East Indies archipelago.
During the Japanese occupation in 1942, the Japanese again changed the name from Batavia to Jakarta.

Greater Jakarta

Home to over 10 million people, Jakarta is a city of contrasts; the traditional and the modern, the sacred and the worldly. Its population comprises of all ethnic groups in the Indonesian archipelago, living under the national motto: Bhineka Tunggal Ika, meaning: Unity in Diversity.
Spanning an area of 661 square kilometers (255 sq mi) Jakarta is one of the world's largest cities. Capital of the Republic of Indonesia, Jakarta is an autonomous province consisting of five municipalities, namely : Central Jakarta, North, West, East and South Jakarta and the District of Pulau Seribu or the Thousand Islands.

Since Indonesia’s Independence in 1945, Jakarta’s population grew by leaps and bounds, new suburbs emerged, absorbing the one-time surrounding rural villages or kampungs. The metropolitan capital spread to all directions, first adding the Kebayoran area, then Pondok Indah, in the south, but now growing east, north, further south and west, so that today, Jakarta has become one almost seamless city with the adjoining towns of Bogor, Depok, Tangerang, and Bekasi. The greater Jakarta area is, therefore, known following its acronym: Jabodetabek.

Fortunately, town planning in this sprawling metropolis is such that each suburb is self-contained, complete with facilities like hospitals, schools, universities, shopping centers, and religious buildings that are all available within easy reach in one neighborhood.

Nonetheless, since the thousands of offices in high rise buildings are still centralized in the city, the millions of commuters who travel at peak hours in the morning and in the evenings from and to the suburbs, cause daily traffic snarls that are almost impossible to overcome, even with the construction of wide toll roads, overhead roads and traffic tunnels.

Betawi Culture & Tradition

The indigenous people of Jakarta are the Betawi, a community of mixed descent, a mixture of different races and ethnic groups, who for generations have made Jakarta their home. Very outspoken and democratic, the Betawi have assimilated different cultures in their daily life, arts, music and traditions. Staunch Muslims, the Betawi blends the original Malay language with neighbouring Sundanese words, mixed with Javanese, Chinese, Indian, Arab and Dutch words.

Chinese Heritage

Ever since the first century AD, China and the Indonesian islands already had close contact either between the Chinese emperor and the Indonesian kings as well in religion and trade contexts. Chinese princesses are known to have been given in marriage to a number of kings in Yogyakarta, Solo, Cirebon, Bangka and Belitung and in Western Borneo.

But the influx of Chinese to Indonesia seriously began in the 17th century when the Dutch East India Company, VOC, attracted Chinese mainlanders to immigrate to the Indonesian islands to work and trade.

In Batavia, capital of the VOC, although the Chinese were needed by the Dutch, yet the Chinese community together with the indigenous population were kept to settle outside the city walls and entrenchments.

Many therefore, settled and traded along the Pintu Besar area by the Ciliwung river, that is known as “Glodok” or Jakarta’s Chinatown. Glodok stretches from Pancoran all the way to Jalan Gunung Sahari. A number of Chinese also settled further west in today’s Tangerang, which is now in the neighboring Banten province. These original settlers in Tangerang are known as the Benteng Chinese.

As in the early centuries China prohibited women from emigrating, the immigrating men married local women, thus creating a fusion and acculturation between Chinese and local Malay, Javanese, and other indigenous traditions. This fusion is known as the Peranakan culture.

The Peranakan culture is most pronounced in their wedding ceremonies, music and dance and in particular in the fusion in food and cuisine, where the Chinese absored the local cultures, and vice versa, local communities absorbed Chinese cultural elements into their existence.

A number of well-preserved Chinese buildings that can still be admired today can be seen in Toko Merah, at Jalan Kali Besar that clearly shows Chinese influences. Another is the newly restored Candranaya building along Jalan Gajah Mada. Both Toko Merah and the Candranaya are now open for Seminars, weddings and other large gatherings.

Petak Sembilan

Petak Sembilan is another neighbourhood that still exudes an aura of the original Chinese settlements. Here is the oldest Chinese temple in Jakarta, called the Jin De Yuan or Dharma Bakti Temple, built in 1650 .

Around Petak Sembilan you will find local Chinese stores selling typical Chinese sweets and other Chinese knick-knacks, drugstores selling Chinese medicines, and best of all local restaurants selling original Chinese food such as roast duck, fried dumplings, bakso meatballs. Here is also the typical Chinese coffee shop called “Kopi Tiam” and the Ice Café called “Tak Kie”, still selling all in the “old ways”.

This part of Jakarta’s Chinatown comes alive with lanterns and lion dances most especially during Chinese New Year Celebrations.

European Colonial Heritage

The Portuguese were the first Europeans who set foot on Java in the 16th century in the search for the legendary Spice Islands. Although the Portuguese did not dominate on Java, yet their heritage from the short period here can still be seen in two Portuguese churches and in the still popular “keroncong” music.

Keroncong is the Indonesian musical fusion from the original Portuguese music known as “fado” introduced by sailors and slave trade ships in the 16th century. The music travelled from Goa in India to Malacca and finally to Tugu.

Keroncong accompanies the Moresco, a dance of Spanish influence that resembles the polka but danced at a slower pace.

In the process of acculturation Keroncong which was originally played on stringed instruments added the flute and gamelan instruments. In the 1960s Keroncong was again popularized by Police General Hugeng, through his well-known band The Hawaiian Seniors, which again added elements from the Moluccas and Hawaii.

The British, who reigned for a short period during the time of Governor General Sir Stamford Raffles, (1811-1815) also left behind the Anglican church which is still in use in the Menteng area.

Arab & Indian Heritage

There are two mosques in Old Batavia that were built in the 18th and 19th century. These are the An-Nawier mosque and the Masjid Langgar Tinggi at Pekojan, now more familiarly known as Kampung Arab or the Arab village, in West Jakarta.

Before the Arabs, the neighborhood was dominated by Muslim Indians from Bengal.
Langgar Tinggi Mosque

The name Pekojan is said to derive from the word “Khoja” or “Kaja”, an area in India. On the other hand, the word “khoja” is also the name of the headdress worn by men from the neighbouring province of Banten. So Banten soldiers who fought with Prince Fatahillah, founder of Jakarta, could well have stayed in this area. And indeed, as Jakarta and later Batavia was a busy international trading port, the town was always full of traders from different ethnic groups who formed their own communities and settled together in villages called “kampungs”.

An-Nawier Mosque

The An-Nawier mosque - also known as the Pekojan Mosque, in the Pekojan subdistrict, - was built in 1749 AD, (or 1180 H according to the Islamic calendar), by Syarifa Fatimah binti Husen Al Idrus. This is the largest and oldest mosque in Old Jakarta and has a number of unique elements. It has an L-shaped floorplan for congregational prayers with capacity for 2,000 persons. The roof is supported by 33 pillars, symbolizing the 33 holy verses that are to be cited after prayers. Outside the mosque stands a 17 meters minaret which closely resembles a light house.

According to stories related by the locals, in the past, whenever there were uprisings against colonial powers, Indonesian freedom fighters would find shelter in this narrow tower, safe from their pursuers.

Walking from this mosque to Masjid Langgar Tinggi, one passes a bridge called Jembatan Kambing – or the Goats’ Bridge over the Angke river. This bridge used to lead to the slaughterhouse for the poor goats. But the slaughterhouse is now no more, although many of those of Arab descent who still live here continue to raise and trade in goats, as they have done for over 200 years.

Arriving at Masjid Langgar Tinggi, or the Tall Mosque, one understands instantly why this mosque is so called, since it consists of two storeys, something quite unusual in those early days.

Masjid Langgar Tinggi, which is located along the Angke river, is said to have been built in the year 1829 AD (or in 1249 H according to the Islamic calendar year). Its upper floor, where prayers are held, is made of wood, and is still original and remains in good condition until today. The ground floor houses the person guarding the mosque.

Its architecture is a fusion of moorish and colonial with Chinese and Javanese elements. Its pillars are in classic European design, the supports of its pillars are Chinese, and their base is Javanese. Its pulpit comes from Palembang, South Sumatra.

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