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Zion Church 1

One relic of old Batavia, now called Jakarta, which still works as usual is Zion Church. This was the Portuguese Church outside the city walls. Zion Church is located at the end of Jayakarta Street, at the junction with Mangga Dua Raya Street. Because these two streets are very crowded, this old church seemed to sink by city traffic. But when you already see it, this old church as well apart from the old town of Batavia centralized in Jakarta Museum plaza.

If we look at a map of old Batavia with its wall, really this old church can not be separated from the Plaza of Jakarta Museum inside the walls of Batavia. Moreover, if we read history that along Jayakarta Street there used to be mansions owned by the rich Batavian, certainly the relationship between buildings inside the city walls of Batavia and this old church is a unity that can not be alienated. Unfortunately the mansions along Jayakarta Street have been changed into a row of shophouses, car showrooms and other commercial buildings so that this old church looks isolated and neglected.

Previously in Batavia there were five churches. One church was in the castle that have disappeared. This church was a place of worship for the soldiers and VOC officials. The other three churches was located within the walls. They were the Dutch Church as the largest church, the Portuguese churches and the Malays church that unified with the hospital. The fourth was a Portuguese church outside the city walls. All this four churches were Calvinist Protestant church. In addition there was one more church as the fifth church established after 1750 within the city walls, located in the north of the Portuguese church within the city walls. It was Plesbitarian Protestant church but the church also have disappeared. At that time the Catholic church was banned in Batavia so all was Protestant churches. In the 17th century the hostility between Catholic and Protestant churches in Europe spread to Batavia that was controlled by the Dutch, and the Dutch were Protestants. Of these five churches that is still standing is the Portuguese Church outside the city walls, now she is called Zion church.

From the outside Zion Church displays a classic architectural style of the oldest in Asia as the Dutch architecture with short eaves. Although they are located outside the walls of Batavia, but this Portuguese church is very reminiscent of a typical urban Batavia similar with the architecture of the buildings inside the city walls.

Actually the orientation of Zion Church has already been changed now. Originally the orientation was to the north with the main door and the church bells overlooking to Mangga Dua Raya street, so parallel with the orientation of the Batavia city directing to the sea in the north. In the west courtyard of the church was the cemetery, which are still two tomb remained. Now at this west side is the main entrance, facing Jayakarta Street.

If we understood furthermore, Batavia was not different with the European cities with the church as its center. The difference was the circular shape of European cities with the church as its center, meanwhile the shaped of Batavia was Grid, but the function of the church as the center of the city remained the same. The Dutch Church and the Portuguese church within the city walls was the center of  Batavia. But the Portuguese church outside the city walls was built after Batavia was established. So at that times it becomes the new center outside the city wall.

At that time it was a church for the black Portuguese people, namely the people of Portuguese descent in Bengal. Originally they were Catholic, but as the Portuguese defeated by the Dutch, the black Portuguese people were taken to Batavia as slaves. Only they could freely independent of his slave status if they converted to Protestantism. At that time all those black Portuguese turned to Protestant, so free from the slave status. They called the Mardijkers or the freedmen and the church was the Portuguese church either inside or outside the city walls.

Interior Zion Church
Interior Zion Church