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Things to Do in Jakarta – Museum Fatahillah

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I learned about Museum Fatahillah in early 2011. For a citizen of Jakarta, I was pretty ignorant, not knowing that the city has an Old Town, or Kota Tua, where the museum is located. It is not as well maintained as the ones in many European towns, however, with a better economy, I hope the local government will improve the maintenance of the Old Town.

The building that now becomes Museum Fatahillah, in the early 17th century used to be the administrative headquarters of the Dutch East India Company, or better known by Indonesian school students as VOC (yes, we learnt this back in our school days). Then in 1627, it was used by the Dutch Colonial government as the city hall of Batavia, the name Jakarta was called by the Dutch, or more correctly known by Jakarta locals as Betawi. It was rebuilt from 1707 to 1710 and becomes the building that we now see as Museum Fatahillah. Museum Fatahillah is also known as the Jakarta History Museum.

What can you find in the museum? There is a hanging platform with figures depicting a Dutch soldier and two local freedom fighters with nooses around their necks as they are about to be executed. Throughout the 37 rooms in the museum, they have antique furnitures, paintings and exhibitions of objects distinct to Jakarta, like ‘becak’, the push transport very common 20 years ago, or the ‘gerobak’ for street vendors to sell their foods.

Interestingly, there is a statue of Mercurius, the god of trade, in the inner courtyard of the museum. I guess this is because back in the VOC era, the building was an administrative building where the company was managing their trades throughout the archipelago.

Also found below the museum building are prison cells, where some of them house old cannon balls, and of course, you will find cannons inside the courtyard of the museum and in the square in front of museum building. Surrounding the Fatahillah Square, as the square is known as, there is the large Kota Post Office, Museum Wayang, Museum Ceramics, Cafe Batavia and a decrepit old building, which can become an interesting photography object.

If you come to Jakarta on a business trip and you have a day in the weekend to kill, then take the Busway from the Thamrin-Sudirman business district and head toward the north. Where the bus route ends, that’s where Kota Tua is. You’ll find Museum Fatahillah not far from the end terminal. You can spend a day in the Square and the museums around it and at the end of your visit to the historical site, you can have a delicious meal at the cozy Cafe Batavia.

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Source by Anton Hassan

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