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Notes on the Geography of Indonesia: Jakarta: Kota

The Kota is the formerly walled part of Dutch Batavia. It's heavy with administrative relics and colonial atmosphere.

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Indonesia: Jakarta: Kota picture 1

The Kali Besar or (not so poetically) Big Canal. Jan Pieterzoon Coen was the first governor-general of Batavia, and it was under his direction that the Dutch began imposing a Dutch town atop Vijayakarta. We've seen some of the Dutch handiwork, but a lot more reaches upstream from this, the Chicken Market Bridge, built in 1655 and the only surviving bridge of its time.

Indonesia: Jakarta: Kota picture 2

The Kali Besar upstream a few minutes' walk from the Chicken Market Bridge. The buildings are shops down, homes up, with rooms atop the shaded colonnades.

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A close-up of the form.

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A few of the buildings have characteristically Dutch gables.

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Another instance, not so well-preserved.

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Some of the buildings have their gables parallel to the street; others, perpendicular to it. Note the red building midway down the street.

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It's the Toko Merali, or Red Shop (1730). Actually it was a duplex, though both halves were occupied at one time by Baron Van Imhoff, governor-general in the 1740s.

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Wallside plaque.

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To the east of the canal, the Dutch built a large square. On its east side was the hall of justice built in 1870 and now a fine-arts museum.

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The nearby Supreme Court is even older, built in 1848 and still in the business.

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On the south side of the square was the Stadhuis or city hall. Older still--built in 1710--it's now the Jakarta History Museum.

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Dungeons in the basement.

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Upstairs, there's fine cabinetry, probably made by Chinese craftsmen.

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Another example of their handiwork.

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A late addition: Bank Indonesia, built in 1910 as the Java Bank but renovated in the 1930s.

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The stasiun kota, or city station, was built in 1919. The architect, F.J.L. Ghijels, appears to have known the Helsinki Station of 1904, designed by Eero Saarinen.

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The barrel-vault girders were imported from the Netherlands.


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