Catholics, Protestants, Anglicans
Published/Last edited or updated: 3rd July, 2018
Within a radius of two kilometres in Central Jakarta, three historic churches, each of a different denomination sit within walking distance of Southeast Asia’s largest mosque and provide a simple reminder that Indonesia is a diverse multi-faith society, home to more than 26 million Christians despite it often being referred to as a Muslim nation.
Opposite Istiqlal Mosque, the Catholic cathedral officially Gereja Santa Perawan Maria Diangkat Ke Surga (Saint Mary of the Assumption), but more commonly known as “Gereja Katedral Jakarta” was completed in 1901 replacing earlier structures from 1810 and 1890. Prior to the early 19th century Catholicism was banned by the ruling Dutch in Indonesia, but political changes in Europe at that time, saw a new openness and the building of Catholic churches in the colonies and what had been a secret practice in some homes was now made public.
The Neo-Gothic stone structure is dominated by three striking white filigree metal spires. Within the cathedral a high wooden vaulted ceiling is typical of the style and a large rose stained glass widow sits over the main portal while an arc of arched stained glass windows decorate the main altar. Pews are suited to the tropics, made from wood with rattan seats that allow the air to flow. In the garden is a small grotto for worshipers and a covered tent caters to overflow for busy services. The cathedral houses a small museum, but it was closed for renovation at the time of our visit in March 2018. Interestingly as a display of tolerance, the mosque and cathedral open their parking spaces to each other during the peak periods of Christmas and Ramadan.
One kilometre away, on Jalan Medan Merdeka Timur the neoclassical Gereja Immanuel features an unusually domed roof and columned portico, much in the style of the earlier Gereja Blenduk in Semarang. Gereja Immanuel was founded as a combined Dutch Reform and Lutheran Church built between 1834 and 1839. The church now comes under the auspices of the GPIB, the Protestant Church of Western Indonesia. Gereja Immanuel was under renovation when we visited in early 2018, but a helpful caretaker opened the doors so we could look around and we were able to climb the impressive solid spiral staircase to the second level and also inspect the fabulous bellows of the pipe organ operated in a similar way to the one at Gereja Sion near Kota Tua. Architecturally we found this church the most interesting of the three in this area.
Continuing south, almost hidden behind the Tugu Tani, the socialist-style sculpture of a heroic farmer/soldier with a pointed hat and a woman, is the All Saints Anglican Church, established in 1819 and the oldest English-speaking institution in Indonesia (although the building itself was constructed a little later). The formal looking rectangular structure shaded under large trees doesn’t look much like a church from outside, except perhaps for the arched window lining the sides. Within the modest interior, memorial stones of various parishioners line the walls including one James Bowen Esq., Caption of the Phoenix whose death was bought about by pirates in 1812 as well as more recent memorials.
All three are easily viewed in less than ten minutes each, but are worth poking your head inside as you pass by.
All Saints Anglican Church: 5 Jalan Arief Rahman Hakim 5, Menteng, Jakarta; https://www.allsaintsjakarta.org
Gereja Immanuel: 10 Jalan Medan Merdeka Timur, Jakarta; http://gpibimmanueljakarta.org
Gereja Katedral Jakarta: 7B Jalan Katedral, Jakarta; http://www.katedraljakarta.or.id
Address: Scattered around central Jakarta
Sally spent twelve years leading tourists around Indonesia and Malaysia where she collected a lot of stuff. She once carried a 40kg rug overland across Java. Her house has been described as a cross between a museum and a library. Fuelled by coffee, she can often be found riding her bike or petting stray cats. Sally believes travel is the key to world peace.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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