Monumen Nasional (Monas)

Disappointing national landmark

Photo of , , Jakarta

What we say: 2.5 stars

The National Monument, known locally as Monumen Nasional, is an obelisk-like spire that protrudes out of the concrete centre of Merdeka Square in central Jakarta to a height of 132 metres.

The monument was built to provide Indonesians with a symbol of their struggle for independence from Dutch colonial rule. Construction started in 1961 and took a staggering 14 years to be officially opened.

The grounds of Monas can sometimes feel extremely hot during the middle of the day due the massive amount of concrete underfoot and a lack of shade. What's worse is that you are forced to walk across this large expanse of concrete to get to the monument itself meaning there is no escape if you want to get inside.

Once past the multitude of gift sellers and in the vicinity of the monument itself, you must try and find the entrance – no easy feat as evidenced by the numerous tourists walking around the monument's perimeter looking for it. The entrance is actually located about 50 metres from the perimeter fence of the monument and requires you to descend some poorly-signed stairs into a tunnel which pops back up inside the perimeter fence.

After paying your fee, you are free to enter the monument proper where there is a museum with loads of predictably nationalistic information about the formation of the Indonesian nation. It's all good stuff if you're interested in that sort of thing and should see you spinning through in about 15 minutes. At this point, most people will choose to catch the elevator to the top of the monument for great views of seemingly endless Jakarta.

Monas is a must-visit when in Jakarta, but it's disappointing as a landmark. It's not pleasing to the eye and the amount of concrete used which traps the blistering heat and the general layout of the place leaves a lot to be improved.

More details
Central Jakarta – best place to enter is from behind Gambir train station
Opening Hours: Daily 08:00–15:00
Last updated: 17th October, 2012

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