Kota Tua Jakarta is also known as the Old Jakarta or Old Batavia. “Kota” is Indonesian language for city. Old Batavia is a house for several historical sites and buildings of Jakarta- Fatahillah Square, Wayang Museum, Maritime Museum, Fine Art and Ceramic Museum, Sunda Kelapa, Cafe Batavia, etc.
Kota Tua Jakarta is located at the north of the city center of Jakarta. Walking is the best way to go around these historical sites. You should not miss dining in Cafe Batavia to experience an odd restaurant overlooking Fatahillah Square.
The old Jakarta has a nice square and old historical buildings. Many of these have been transformed into museums, but many others are crumbling. It has the bicycles and everything like it is an old and crumbling tropical Amsterdam.
The Chicken Market Bridge dates back to the XVII century and is of Dutch origin. The bridge is nice but the canal below is very dirty, smelly and polluted and the walk there from Fatahillah Square is not exactly the most interesting and the area is very run down.
Kota Tua is where the Dutch immigrants settled and established their seat of government. Buildings showcasing Dutch architecture still stand around the Fatahillah square, most of which function as museums. It is also around this area where you can find Cafe Batavia, a place where the Dutch used to dine.
You can walk around the square, interact with the locals or ride a bike, or visit the museums around. Go late in the afternoon so the heat won't be too much for you, or stay inside the museums when the sun is too much to bear.
Batavia is the old center of Dutch Jakarta. It is in a rather pitiful state as many of the historic buildings are crumbling in front of your very eyes. The desire to annihilate everything related to the previous master is very thinly veiled by some efforts to spruce up the main square and the adjacent edifices. As a result there are at least three buildings that are worth a visit – the Dutch government headquarters and two other ones that nowadays serve as a museum and a puppet gallery. The government house is the one in best shape with some intricately carved furniture, dungeon and a backyard containing a peculiar Portuguese cannon. Picture taking is forbidden inside but this does not stop the local visitors from shooting as they please and with flash to boot. The cannon has this bizarre fame of helping fertility due to its butt in a form of clenched fist with a thumb sticking out between the second and third finger. I do not know in who’s books this gesture means male reproductive organ but in Bulgaria it is exactly the opposite – representing the female genitals. So sitting on it or not is not going to help much! Kitty corner from the government is the museum of pottery if we are to judge by the contents. Very poor and disappointing collection – does not bode well for the image of Indonesia to Jakarta-on-the-go people whose impressions are to be based on its displays. Entrance is very cheap, alas, deservedly. Across the square there is another old house containing the puppet museum at present. One of its custodians is very aggressive fellow, seeking out tourists to buy his buffalo leather puppets. He was prowling into the government house picking up his “victims”, a bit annoyingly self-appointing himself to be your guide and gradually sucking you into the puppet museum even after hours “to show you around”. During all of this show, where it becomes abundantly clear that he comes from an illustrious puppet making and puppet acting family, the question hovering in the air is: what does he want in return? No worries, at the end he spreads out “his father’s production” than his uncles one and so forth till you buy something to get rid of him. By the way, the stuff is not bad, may be a bit overpriced but purchased at the puppet museum – this provides for some premium inevitably.
When you cross Kali Besar on the Diamond bridge, you have an overview of this kali (Channel) the banks of which is currently under renovation; look at the first picture, and remove the electric lights and the skyscrapers, add canoes on the waters. . . that was Batavia! No, this is not sarcasm, I like this area, and it is not the dirt (picture 2) which will make me change my mind! The canal has been covered by brigges, there are modern concrete buildings and in the middle, an old house (picture 3), and further south, you cannot go upstream just like that, and it is better to walk on hard ground rather than on channel banks, and walk in the old streets of Amsterdam (oops, I mean Batavia. . . no Jakarta!! But it is the orange shirts of the people in the street (picture 5) which made me think about Nederland, Dutch football team. . . and would Amsterdam not look nice with palm trees in the red light district?
That is the name of this drawbridge if I translate from the Indonesian: Jembatan Kota Intan. Near the northern End of Kali Besar you can admire a beautiful remain of old Batavia (I am tempted to write Old Amsterdam!); this bridge is very well preserved and you almost can expect it will work, but there are not anymore boats navigating down the kali and the bridge is closed to traffic now.
This bridge which was first build in the beginning 17th century, linked the Dutch fort the English fort (when there was an English settlement in what would eventually become Batavia), and was named Engelse Brug—English Bridge— but it later changed name many times with the course of history (Centre Bridge, Chicken market bridge, . . . . ) and it was rebuilt as a drawbridge in 1938 and was named “Juliana-Bernhard” Bridge. Since Independence, it is called Jembatan Kota Intan.
This landmark of the old city has been well preserved and it is nice to walk on it and make a few photographs.
I wrote this title here, well, I do not know. . . I just had some thought about, and at the end, there is probably nothing bad. . . Well, when you look at some pictures the café, in the corridor leading to the toilet, you find them funny and interesting (first picture), and arriving at the men’s toilet, it is well indicated (picture 2), and there are lots of photographs in the toilet, above the washstand (picture 3). And. . . it is a story for guys. . . for the pee, you stand. . . . in front of a big mirror! We all know guys look at themselves for this activity, but here there is a mirror (picture4), and you can see yourself in the mirror, and imagine you have neighbours doing the same. . . . you cannot avoid to see them. . . well! It is just funny! Funny only? Looking at some of the pictures or posters displayed in the toilet (picture 5) I suddenly felt. . . I need to watch my back. . . :)! How is it in the ladies toilet?
I give a general description of Café Batavia in the restaurant section of this page, I just come back to the décor of this restaurant, and to the wonderful photographs display here. Photographs everywhere! A wall of photographs (picture 1) in front of you, when you walk up the stairs to the first floor. In the restaurant of the first floor, there are even photographs on the pillars (picture 2), with famous dancers or anonymous guitarists (picture 3). On the wall above the staircase are famous politicians (picture 4) and artistic photographs. . . lots and lots of photographs, fun to look at, and in the ground floor café (picture 5), photographs again and again! I find this decoration style very inice and interesting, and it is well done, as there is a sort of a unity, and each photograph has still its personality, and it is not lost in the “crowd”. It is worth to make a photograph tour in Café Batavia.
Oh! Almost empty! Two cannons, few people sitting on stone spheres, a bajaj passing by (first picture). . . . It is a very rare sight in the usually very hectic Jakarta! This picture has been taken from the historical museum on the southern side of Taman Fatahillah; Taman Fatahillah is the main square of old Batavia, and it has recently been laid out as a pedestrian area, with only the eastern side open to traffic. It is nice to have a quiet place in North Jakarta, a place with the shade of trees, where you can have a rest (picture 2), or if the heat does not frighten you, you can rent a bike (picture 3) and tour in the area (I did not rent a bike here, preferred to walk that day).
I do not know what these stone spheres (picture 4) represent; you find them all around Taman Fatahillah, delimitating this square which in the middle has a small basin with a fountain; well, a nice place to have a rest between the visits to the museums which are located around this square (picture 5); enjoy it, places like this one are rare in Jakarta!
Ah! And Fatahillah! It is the name of the Sundanese prince who in the 16th century conquered back Jayakarta from the Portuguese, but could not do a lot when the Dutch conquered west Java.
This cannon take from Malacca to Batavia by Dutch in 1641. This 3,5 ton weight and 3,85 m long cannon has latin inscription "Ex me ipsa renata sum" mean “I get reborn outside me”, cos of this scrip and also the shape of the thumb of the cannon, people believe that when woman pushed their tummy against the first, they will get pregnant, is that true??
To me it was Yogyakarta (see link) which raised my interests into Wayang puppets. So the Wayang Museum TAMAN FATAHILLAH is a must because of the best Wayang puppets collection at Java. See how careful some puppets are taken care of (with incense, flowers etc.) and do not forget the puppets out of India, China, Malaysia and Cambodia, too.
At one time you can see some memorials to Jan Pieterszoon Coen, founder of Batavia (ancient name of Jakarta) in the downstairs courtyard ...
Jakarta, a while ago Batavia named, has some old buildings which are still in use. Some are museums, so if you want to visit of these, hike to Old Batavia in Northerly area. You'll pass a canal and see a small 17th century Dutch drawbridge. It is called the Chicken Market Bridge close to Kota Train Station.
The Dutch East India Company governed Jakarta from 1619 renaming it Batavia. Their city's heart was the cobblestone square, Taman Fatahillah bounded by the great canal, Kali Besar, to the west, which was lined by grand early 18th century town houses. Follow the canal north to see the only remaining drawbridge in Jakarta - the little 17th-century Chicken Market Bridge. South of the square, visit the Jakarta History Museum (Museum Sejarah Jakarta), housed in the 1627, bell-towered town hall, and uncover more of Indonesia's history under Dutch rule. The collection of shadow puppets known as wayang golek are particularly fine
See historic Old Jakarta on foot with Sahabat Museum walking tour programs. Sahabat Museum was established earlier this year and now they run regular walking tours on the last Sundays of every month. The most popular itinerary is the Passer Baroe area, where visitors can see many historic landmarks and forgotten buildings, including savoring legendary ice creams from Tropik Cafe (which has been around for ages) and film screenings at the Filateli Museum. All this for only Rp 20000-25000 (USD 2.50 - 3.00). All tour includes a guide.
The tour was a great experience. It was very interesting to see old, beautiful buildings first hand. The guides were knowledgeable and the crowd is non-touristy. Most importantly, it makes you WALK, which is good for your body.
Sahabat Museum programs are getting very popular so make sure you book early for a spot at one of their numerous programs. You can send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.