Kota Tua: The Old Batavia

On this 1.3 square kilometers of land, - today part of north and west Jakarta, - is where the Dutch built a fortress, a city wall, canals and administrative buildings.

Center of Old Batavia was the Municipal Hall, known as Stadhuis, fronted by a large plaza, known as Stadhuisplein, that has a fountain in its center that supplied water to the surrounding buildings. Today the plaza is called the Fatahillah Square and the Stadhuis has become the Fatahillah Museum which houses the complete history of the growth of the city of Jakarta.

Around the square are important buildings. On the East side was the Court of Justice, which is now the Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics. Here you will find paintings of Indonesia’s maestro painter Raden Saleh as well as those of the more contemporary painter, Basuki Abdullah, Affandi and more.

To the west you can find the Wayang Museum that was once owned by the large Dutch company Geo Wehry.

Nearby is the Kota Railway Station, also known as the Beos Station. This is an art deco building, which continues to be in use and still retains its original architecture. While to the north are a number of commercial buildings which now house the Museum Mandiri and the Bank Indonesia Museum.


Historic Places around Kota Tua ( the Old Batavia )

The Jakarta History Museum

Also known as the Fatahillah Museum in the Old Batavia district, the Museum follows the history of Jakarta. Originally built in 1707 as the Stadhuis, or the Municipal Hall of Batavia, the building now houses the history of the city of Jakarta from prehistoric times until today, in metals, textiles, stones, crystal, ceramics, paperand bone. Here is the “Jagur” cannon, believed to enhance fertility, the axe used for beheading of criminals, paintings of consecutive Dutch Governor Generals from 1602 – 1942.

Here there also original antique colonial furniture once used by the colonial powers. The Museum has a dark and scary dungeon that was once a prison, where at one time Indonesia’s National Hero, Diponegoro, was imprisoned and chained.

The Wayang Museum

The Wayang Museum is also located at the Fatahillah Square. “Wayang” are the typical stylized Indonesian puppets that draw their tales from the Hindu epic poems the Mahabharata and the Ramayana as well as relate the feats of ancient Javanese kings in destroying their opponents.

While “wayang” is a way of popular story-telling yet it is a sophisticated art form that conveys deep philosophical thoughts and learnings.For this reason Wayang has also been designated a UNESCO World Heritage.

Most well known are the finely crafted leather puppets that are used for shadow puppet performances, but in this Museum you will find all kinds of puppets from different parts of Java. There are the wayang golek puppets from West Java, These are wooden puppets played by the “dalang” or the story teller, who changes his voice and intonations following the character in action, whether male or female, king or commoner.

Wayang can also be performed by human actors, in which case it is called “Wayang Wong”. Here are also masks, wayang beber, Wayang Revolusi, Wayang Suket and more, totalling some 5,500 items.

The Museum also has a collection of puppets from different countries, from China, India, Thailand, Cambodia to France and Suriname.The oldest in the collection is the Wayang Kyai Intan created in 1870.

The Fine Arts and Ceramics Museum

Still at the Fatahillah Square is the Fine Arts and Ceramics Museum. Here are displayed a collection of rare paintings by Indonesia’s maestros like Raden Saleh, Affandi, Basoeki Abdullah, S. Sudjojono, to contemporary Dede Ero Supria and more. There are also collections of ceramics and sculptures by G. Sidharta.








Bank Indonesia Museum and Bank Mandiri Museum

If you are interested in Banking, then visit the Bank Indonesia Museum and the Bank Mandiri Museum also around the Square. In the Bank Indonesia Museum you can follow the history of the archipelago’s Banking system from Dutch colonial times to today.

While the Bank Mandiri Museum shows how a private bank was run in the old colonial days.

A mural shows the four seasons in Europe and a Dutch Captain, named Cornelis Houtman. The building itself has still retained the aura of the good old days, where ceramic mozaic floors are still in place in the lobby, the meeting room and offices of the bank directors.