Photo: Play a tune.

Gereja Sion

Our rating:

A short walk from Jakarta’s Kota railway station, the stately and rather austere historic church, Gereja Sion (Zion Church) attests to a unique chapter in the story of the city.





Dating from 1695 it is the oldest church in Jakarta today, and possibly the oldest remaining in Indonesia. Originally known as “De Nieuwe Portugeesche Buitenkerk” (The New Portuguese Outer Church) referring to its position outside of the city wall, it was established to service Batavia’s “Mardijker” community. As the colonial powers shifted in the region and Portuguese colonies fell under the sovereignty of the Dutch, slaves captured in what is now Sri Lanka, India and the Malay Peninsula, ostensibly after the Dutch conquest of Melaka, were brought to Batavia by the Dutch East India Company (a nearby kampung is still known as Roa Malaka).

Austere from the outside. Photo taken in or around Gereja Sion, Jakarta, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Austere from the outside. Photo: Sally Arnold

This mixed bag of Catholic slaves whose only common language was Portuguese were said to have been granted their freedom on the condition they converted to Protestantism. The freed slaves were known as “Mardijker” from the same root word as “Merdeka”, the Indonesian word for freedom. A few original graves remain in the churchyard including the ornate bronze tombstone of Governor General Hendrick Zwaardecroon who died in 1728.

The modest but solid structure sits on the corner of two traffic-clogged streets, all but hidden from view by large trees and a pedestrian overpass. Oversized arched windows and an understated neoclassical portico are the only embellishments of the rectangular structure. The vast uncluttered interior is punctuated by six enormous white pillars which connect to heavy wooden beams that support the three-part wooden barrel ceiling. As with much of the architecture of the period, the design is grand, formal and ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


Don’t miss the boat!

Please subscribe to Travelfish.org to read the rest of this article, or log in here.


Subscribing to Travelfish costs A$35 per year and it gets you access to more than 200 downloadable guides to specific destinations, fabulous discount coupons and 50% off our personalised travel planning service. Sign up here.


By


Gereja Sion
Jalan Pangeran Jayakarta, Jakarta

Location map for Gereja Sion

Start planning your holiday today

Sent every Monday, our newsletter is full of travel advice, news & special deals. Read past issues.

   

Popular attractions in Jakarta

A selection of some of our favourite sights and activities around Jakarta.



Best places to stay in Jakarta

A selection of some of our favourite places to stay in Jakarta.


What next?

 Browse our independent reviews of places to stay in and around Jakarta.
 Check prices, availability & reviews on Agoda or Booking
 Read up on where to eat on Jakarta.
 Check out our listings of things to do in and around Jakarta.
 Read up on how to get to Jakarta.
 Do you have travel insurance yet? If not, find out why you need it.
 Planning on riding a scooter in Jakarta? Please read this.
 Browse the web securely while travelling with TunnelBear. Try with a 7–day free trial.


See below for more sights and activities in Jakarta that are listed on Travelfish.org.


Top of page


Where to next?

Where are you planning on heading to after Jakarta? Here are some spots commonly visited from here, or click here to see a full destination list for Indonesia.


Top of page