Fatahillah Square, Kota Tua (Old Batavia)

Once the centre of Dutch colonial administration, Fatahillah Square offers a fascinating glimpse of Jakarta’s past. While it may only cover 1.5 hectares, this small parcel of land is packed with historic interest and is worth at least a half day’s exploration, if not more. Highlight of the area is the Jakarta History Museum located in a grand 1710 building that once served as the Municipal Hall of the Dutch East India Company. Just to the west, the Wayang (Puppet) Museum displays an impressive collection of leather and wooden puppets from throughout the archipelago. If you have time, take a tour of the world-class collections on show in the Fine Art and Ceramic Museum. Nearby is the imposing Kantor Pos Fatahillah, or Jakarta Old City Post Office, that dates back to 1928. Also not far to the north of Fatahillah Square you will come across two financial institutions, the Bank of Indonesia Museum and the Bank of Mandiri Museum. If you’re feeling energetic and the weather isn’t too hot, you can rent a bicycle (with distinctive colonial-style helmet)to explore the area. Look for a line of colourful old bikes known as onthel parked along the side of the square. Alternatively, you can ask to be pedalled around by one of the bicycle attendants who will act as your guide. See the Arts and Culture section on page 87 for more details of museums and galleries in this area.