Skip directly to content

Tourism in Batavia – Old Jakarta

Tourists at the Plaza of Fatahilah Museum
Tourists at the Plaza of Fatahilah Museum

Jakarta is not a place that interests many tourists like Bali. Although there are tidy streets such as Sudirman and Thamrin Streets, they are not tourist shopping streets. The only tourism point of interest is the old Jakarta town or previously called Batavia. Since the town has been deteriorated and many buildings such as the castle that supposed to be a tourist’s point of interest have been destroyed, a few tourists are willing to visit it. There are a few old buildings that are still in good condition, however the environment is worsened. These are the challenge of the government to revitalized old Jakarta. Nowadays there is revitalization project in old Jakarta so that several buildings were closed for renovation. But the preservation of the old buildings is not planned in a holistic frame work with other problems.

One of the tourism focuses of the town is Fatahilah Museum or Jakarta history museum that formerly was the town hall. This is not the initial town house built in the same time with the construction of Batavia; this building was constructed in 1707 until 1712. A century later its facade was changed into present form. Thank God that Daendels did not destroy this building although many old buildings in Batavia were destroyed along with the town wall. The material of their ruins was used to build the governmental complex south of the old town as the new Batavia. Fatahilah Museum keeps a lot of old furniture that was used since Batavia was built. Hence inside the building we could see the ancient life of the town. This building has a long history at its back yard. There are also rooms that were used as prison that is located under the main building.

In front of Fatahilah Museum, across the plaza is Batavia Cafe. It was a tourists’ favorite restaurant in old Jakarta. Unlike other buildings in the surrounding which is already in art-deco, the building is still in original form of Batavian shop house. Inside the restaurant we could enjoy the nuance of old Batavia. Several other restaurants are also used part of the old building such as café at the formerly dockyard.

Not far from Fatahilah Museum is the Great River or Kali Besar. Along the river row of shop houses was located, lining in the East and the West side of the river. Several shop houses are still original. One of the houses, colored in red with unique interior was the house of formerly Dutch governor general Gustaff von Imhoff.

In old Jakarta, only at the plaza before the Fatahilah Museum and its surrounding is used as pedestrian. The other locations suffered traffic jam. Hence tourists always try to get rid of this horrific area. Consequently, only a few tourists are willing to visit old Jakarta. Besides such complicated problem there is no tourist attraction but untidy place. It would be different if the government revitalized many sites such as the then old castell that would be a new attraction for tourism. However it is difficult to revitalize the destroyed old buildings as they embed many complex inheritance problems that is almost impossible to be solved.   

Other tourism problem in old Jakarta is dirtiness. Not only the great river Kali Besar where the water is black polluted, people also throw garbage almost everywhere. During the day there are a lot of vendor who open their merchandise at the street side creating messy street side. All of this gives a bad impression for tourists and other Jakarta’s inhabitant.

However, we appreciate the effort of city government to revitalize the old town of Jakarta - Batavia. We believe this effort is not only give a positive impact for tourism, more over it will increase the quality of life in Jakarta. Old Jakarta was and is the identity of the urban life emergence in Indonesia as a whole.