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Jakarta Attractions – page 2

Istana Merdeka (Presidential Palace)
North side of Merdeka Square

Originally called Koningsplein Paleis, this palace established between 1873 and 1879 Originally called Koningsplein Paleis, this palace established between 1873 and 1879 features a neoclassical architecture. Set in well-maintained gardens, it was home to 15 Dutch governor-generals, three Japanese commanders and the first president of Indonesia. In 1949, the Indonesian founding fathers and the Dutch government signed an agreement here, ending the War of Independence. Now it functions as an official venue for presidential meetings and state functions. Expect a security check before entering. Dress modestly. No trousers for women.

Monas (National Monument)
Standing at 132 meters and topped with 35 kilograms of gold, this imposing obelisk is Jakarta’s most famous landmark. Construction started in 1961 under President Soekarno but was not completed until 1975, under President Soeharto. The monument houses a couple of museums. The Freedom Hall depicts Indonesia’s struggle for independence through a series of dioramas, whereas the Hall of Contemplation displays the original Declaration of Independence document and a recording of the speech. An elevator takes one to the observation platform, which commands a bird’s-eye view of the cityscape. Admission is free.

Jakarta Planetarium
The planetarium was officially opened in 1969 as an exhibition center for meteorology, physics, space science and astronomy. Equipped with a high-precision telescope, the observatory hosts important gatherings with famous astronomers from time to time. The planetarium itself projects various exciting and educational images of planets and stars regularly – twice daily from Tuesday to Saturday and four times on Sundays. Screenings in English can be arranged.

Pasar Ikan (Fish Market)
Jalan Pasar Ikan, Jakarta
This fish market is probably the most exotic of its kind in Jakarta. Here, one gets to observe the working climate of Jakarta’s modest, hardworking and outspoken fishermen. Although it markets primarily fresh fish, you can also find shops here selling anything from household goods to seashells and boat fittings. Many late-night revelers also come here to savor some grilled fish served up by the food stalls. The more adventurous might like to cruise across the Old Harbor, between Pasar Ikan and Sunda Kelapa, on a raft. Negotiate first with the abang (raftsman) for a good rate.

National Museum
The Batavian Society of the Arts and Sciences was established on this site in 1778. Due to its rapid growth, the building was transformed into a museum in 1862. Among its collections are fine ethnographic and pre-historic items, including china, bronze and gold objects, stone sculptures and textiles that provide an excellent overview of ancient Indonesian culture. The elephant statue in the front yard was a gift from King Chulalongkorn of Siam in 1871. The Indonesian Heritage Society provides free guided tours in various languages.

Museum Fatahillah (Jakarta History Museum)
Jalan Taman Fatahillah No.1, Jakarta Barat
Tel: +62 21 692 9101 Fax: +62 21 690 2387
This old City Hall of Batavia occupies the site of its two predecessors. The current building of fine Dutch architecture was completed in 1710 and once served many civic and judiciary functions. Beneath the front portico lie some cells which were used as dungeons. The museum took over the premises in 1974 and offers a fine glimpse into the city’s colonial past. Thirty-seven ornate rooms display Dutch furniture, old maps, antiquities and Dutch East India Company (V.O.C.) memorabilia, recreating the atmosphere prevalent during the Dutch era. In the rear courtyard stand two ondel-ondel statues.

Museum Wayang (Puppet Museum)
Jalan Pintu Besar Utara No.27, Jakarta
Tel: +62 21 692 9560
The site of this museum bears witness to decades of natural disasters and colonialism. It was originally occupied by a Dutch reformed church until a devastating earthquake in 1808 and then by a warehouse until 1912. Some prominent Dutch officials are buried in the small cemetery at the back. The museum boasts thousands of puppets from all parts of Indonesia. Two of the most famous are wayang kulit and wayang golek. These shadow puppets entertain here–usually with gamelan music–at 10am on Sundays, lending an exotic insight into the native theatrical scene.

Museum Bahari (Maritime Museum)
Jalan Pasar Ikan No.1, Jakarta
Tel: +62 21 669 3406
The Maritime Museum occupies a sturdy construction completed in 1774 and once used by the Dutch as a warehouse for storing spices and commodities. The historical building alone justifies a visit. The front section is probably the only ancient city wall surrounding Batavia (old Jakarta) still standing today. Inside, the museum showcases Indonesia’s maritime history. Its modest collection includes traditional Indonesian sea craft and interesting photographs taken on board some steamships between the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

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