Construction commenced in 1904 on the large main building with features such as high ceilings, large windows and many doors – Lawang Sewu meaning "thousand doors" in Javanese.
After the Japanese invasion during the Second World War, the Japanese used these buildings among other things for rape and torture and to this day may local people believe the place is inhabited by unhappy spirits.
The complex itself is rather disappointing and many sections which have been renovated look shabby and in need of maintenance. In fact, the whole complex disappoints on every level with access to the main building being blocked over the course of 2011 and 2012 due to an ongoing dispute about access between government-owned Indonesian Railways and the Semarang government.
For those that love colonial architecture, this place is worth a visit. For everyone else, it really is just a time filler .
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