Photo: Wander the old quarter.

Kota Tua

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Kota Tua, is the historic heart of Jakarta, literally Jakarta’s “Old Town” usually just referred to as simply “Kota”.





The Dutch East Indies Company (VOC) established the walled city of Batavia here in the 17th century from where they ran their mercantile empire for the next 300 years. Once the Dutch departed, the area was pretty much left to deteriorate, however changes are afoot and many of the dilapidated mansions and warehouses are slowly been given a facelift and a development project is in the process of rejuvenating the old canal.

Old town indeed. Photo taken in or around Kota Tua, Jakarta, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Old town indeed. Photo: Sally Arnold

In contrast to the haphazard development of most of modern Jakarta, historically Batavia was a planned city. A prominent 17th century mathematician and scientist was commissioned to design the “ideal city”, a grid dissected by a canal (Kali Besar) still discernible today. The administrative hub of the city was around the stadhuisplein, the city square now renamed Taman Fatahillah or Fatahillah Square for the 16th-century commander Sayyid Fatahillah who captured Sunda Kalapa from the Portuguese for the Islamic Sultanates of Demak, Cirebon and Banten prior to the Dutch conquest.

Surrounding the square the former administrative buildings of the VOC have been reinvented as museums and cafes although much of the former could do with a good overhaul. The square itself is one of Jakarta’s most popular spots for nongkrong—hanging out, and is a fun place to join the throngs, take selfies with the costumed characters or try some local snacks. It gets particularly busy on weekends which may or may not add to the appeal, depending on your point of view. Much mirth and merriment can be had hiring a Dutch-era bicycle, donning a frilly hat or pith helmet and exploring the old town. Bikes cost 20,000 rupiah for a ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Kota Tua
Centred on Taman Fatahillah

Location map for Kota Tua

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