Jakarta is the capital city of Indonesia and offers the following points of interest for tourists and photographers;
- National Monument (and view of the city)
- Merdeka Square and Palace
- Istiqlal Mosque
- St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral, Jakarta
- Jakarta History Museum and Fatahillah Square, Jakarta Old City
- National Museum of Indonesia
- Wayang Museum
- Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
Hotels in Jakarta are very good value and you can find luxury hotels for low prices. Just be careful which area you choose as Jakarta is huge and the traffic is terrible.
Located in the center of Merdeka Square is The National Monument (above). The monument is 132 meters tall and it’s possible to take a small lift to the top for a view of Merdeka Square and the city. The monument is quite small as is the lift to the top but because Jakarta has few tourists this is not a problem. You probably won’t need to queue to take the lift to the top. From the top of the monument it’s possible to see many of Jakarta’s top sites including Merdeka Square, Merdeka Palace, Istiqlal Mosque, St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral as well as a panoramic of the huge city.
Merdeka Square is huge and the National Monument is located in the center of it. Merdeka is the Indonesian word for freedom and the square was named Freedom Square in 1945 after Indonesia gained independence from The Netherlands. Before independence the square used to be called Kings Square (Koningsplein), referring to the King of The Netherlands. Before freedom in 1945, Indonesia was called the Dutch East Indies and Jakarta was called Batavia. Merdeka Square is over 1 square kilometer in size and is one of the largest city squares in the world.
The Istiqlal Mosque translated into English means the Independence Mosque. The Istiqal Mosque is the largest mosque in Indonesia and South East Asia. In the dimensions of the mosque there is a 17, an 8 and a 45 to represent the date of Indonesian independence from the Dutch on 17th August, 1945. The capital city of Indonesia was Yogyakarta under Dutch rule but after independence it was moved to Jakarta and the Istiqlal Mosque was built as a symbol of independence. As it is so huge and during that period Indonesia did not have the funds to build it, it was built in 3 stages over a period of years. The Istiqlal Mosque was finally completed in 1975 and is now open to the public.
The mosque was constructed next to the existing St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral to show peace between the different religions.
Jakarta History Museum is located in Dutch Square and surrounded by Dutch colonial buildings. The historic building (above) used to be the City Hall (stadhuis) of Batavia (present day Jakarta) when the Dutch ruled this part of the world.
The area around the Jakarta History museum, Fatahillah Square and Jakarta Old City is full of 18th century Dutch colonial buildings. When I visited a lot of the houses were in bad shape but the whole area is undergoing renovations. In the future this area could become a UNESCO world heritage site and it has already been nominated. Under Dutch rule in the Dutch East East Indies Jakarta Old City was known as Old Batavia.
North Jakarta is an interesting part of the city. In the northern part of the city you’ll find many attractions including Ancol Sea World. I photographed a stingray (above) and yes I did get a selfie with him afterwards. If you are visiting Jakarta with kids this would be the best area to visit. There are lots of amusement parks, adventure parks and water parks. There is wooden walkway with views of the Java Sea to the north as well as lots of restaurants.
I discovered when I arrived in Jakarta by bus from Medan that the traffic in Jakarta is terrible and the roads in Indonesia are undeveloped. You are guaranteed to be stuck in traffic in Jakarta and throughout the country so I would recommend taking the train to Yogyakarta. The train from Jakarta to Yogyakarta takes around 8 hours and you can buy your ticket online. The trains leave from Jakarta Gambir station and arrive at Yogyakarta Tugu, an executive class ticket will cost around $25. I took an early morning train which meant I was traveling to the train station before the roads got busy in Jakarta and the train arrived late afternoon in Yogyakarta.