Arts of Jakarta – From Monas and Beyond

Submitted by mumunmumun on 24 March 2016   •  Destination

There’s a glamorous and curvaceous lady on top of the Nasional Monument or Monas, Jakarta. Not many can see her, but she is said to be there ever since Monas existed. Well, that’s what my guide said when I participate in a walking tour around the area. The lady he referred to was a camouflaged image on the golden peak of Monas, seen from the presidential palace. It is said the female curves was sculpted in by the order of Soekarno, our president at the time. Artsy, that man was, and had a love for women. Along with this fun artsy fact, are a few more arts of Jakarta around the block, west of  Monas area.


Jakarta Cathedral

This cathedral belongs to the Roman Catholics, built in 1901 and still functions till today. On the artsy side, this cathedral is design with a neo-gothic style, which is said to have pointed arches, steep-sloping roofs and decorative tracery. First time I saw this form of arts of Jakarta, I was pretty stunned to see such a European styled building in the middle of Jakarta, and most people do. It’s beautiful with so many details and very different to its surroundings. Although the current structure isn’t necessarily 100% from the past, as it had undergone some rehabilitation, it’s still stands elegantly and a sight even if you enjoy it from the outside.

Photo by Endi Hamid.

Istiqlal Mosque

This Moslem house of prayer was first opened in 1978. From the outside, it’s not something very impressive. It looks like a typical Lego building made by a child; harsh squares, with the exception of the 2 domes on top. The inside, however, is a lot grander with huge silver pillars in the middle of the main room and awesome details decorating the inner of the main dome. Floors are covered with marble, keeping the surface cold, necessary as we are to enter with no shoes. The mosque is also decorated with Islamic symbols all through the structure. Interestingly, it was a Christian architect that designed the mosque, Federick Silaban, after winning the a design competition. It was also initiated by Soekarno, who insisted its location to be across from the cathedral, symbolizing harmony between religions. He was a visionary, seeing we needed reminding as religious fueled feuds are an issue in this country. All of these facts made it deserve to be one of the important arts of Jakarta.

Istiqlal mosque, Jakarta


Galeri Nasional Indonesia

By it’s name, you can tell that this place is artsy. The Galeri Nasional, or simply translated to national gallery, is home to some of the great art of Indonesia, both old and new. To name a few, Raden Saleh, Basuki Abdullah and one my favorites, Affandi. Aside to its permanent collection that can be seen during open hours, the gallery is also vibrant with exhibitions and art activities. The building itself is from the Dutch days, 1817. Design-wise, it’s not too special, but it’s an old Dutch structure, making it interesting and adding that grand element.

Diponegoro exhibition at Galeri Nasional

Interesting Diponegoro exhibition at Galeri Nasional.

Gedung Kesenian Jakarta (Hall of Arts of Jakarta)

The name of this building translates to Jakarta’s building of art. Built in 1814, it was purposed for performances, shows, theater, and such. However, it did go through several functions such as a conference hall, national school for theater and movie cinemas before coming back to its original function, a performance hall. Inside, the building is like those old fashion theaters with balconies and red velvet seats, all facing the wooden-floor stage. Seeing it’s beautiful interior, I’m sure the stage has shared its fair share of divas, and probably more to come.


West Papua Independence Monument

One of the monuments around the area is a man screaming of freedom. This monument is located in the middle of Banteng Park and commemorates the independence of West Papua in 1961. It’s impressively standing 15 meters above the ground with a clear surrounding, truly showing independence from any obstacles. It was build and designed by two men, Henk Ngantung and F. Silaban, who was the architect of Istiqlal. A little birdy told me that it was kinda interpreted wrong, with odd proportions of the body. From my observation, it also didn’t look like a Papua guy, but then again art is about interpretation. Nonetheless, this too was initiated by Soekarno and a nice reminder of Papua, being the east border of Indonesia.

West Papua Independence Monument, arts of jakarta

Veteran Street

Most people in Jakarta know this street for Ragusa, the vintage ice cream parlor with old style ice cream. We particularly love this street because Dapur Baba is located here, a restaurant with a blend of western, Chinese and Indonesian cuisines. If you’ve followed the blog for a while, you’d know that we always love the Tugu Group properties, with a great deal of style. This road made this list because Veteran Street was a fashion street back in the colonial days. The street itself was filled with textile shops, fashionable people and all that jazz. I could imagine such a view, with some of the remaining buildings still maintain their form of old shops. It must have been the Rodeo Drive and a place of fashion muse.

Dapur Baba, arts of jakarta

Inside of Dapur Baba.

After living for sometime in the city, following a few walking tours, reading a few pieces of history and just putting the puzzles pieces together in general, I realise this particular area is sprawling with art or traces of its. I’m sure there’s more where it came from. Interestingly, Soekarno played a very big role in many of the mentioned spots. If you’re interested in seeing some of the places above, it’s totally doable by walking, especially if you stayed at the Hotel Borobudur. Not only that, it’s a grand five star luxury hotel and is rumoured to have a killer ox tail soup, one that could be waiting when you get back from you walk.

In the mean time, have more art in your lives. Do drop more info about the arts of Jakarta in this particular part, if you happen to know more. We’d love to go hunt from them.

*This post was sponsored by Hotel Borobudur, but the opinions are my own.



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Mesra Berkelana
4 years ago

Nah yang kuno-kuno gini harus ttp di Jaga dirawat sayang-sayang.