Iconic building, interesting museum
Published/Last edited or updated: 28th May, 2018
On just about any tourist brochure or poster promoting Bandung, you’ll find images of Gedung Sate, this quintessential Bandung landmark is the city’s “Eiffel Tower”.
Gedung Sate functions as the Office of the Provincial Governor of West Java, originally built as the Gouvernement Bedrijven (government building) for the intended new capital of the Dutch East Indies back when the colonialists planned to move from swampy malaria-infested Batavia (modern-day Jakarta), to cool (and much more fun) Bandung. Some reports suggest this plan was thawed by Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands, who believed landlocked Bandung was risky to defend, cumbersome for trade and generally a folly, while most other accounts suggest it was due to World War II and the growing nationalist movement in Bandung which eventually led to Indonesia’s independence.
Regardless, the building was completed and it is an outstanding example of what is known as the New Indies Style. Gedung Sate’s rather amusing local moniker, literally “satay building” comes from the spire that crowns the building and looks like a giant satay skewer. This spire acts as a lightening rod and the six rounded-diamond-shaped “meat” ornaments symbolise the nominal cost of construction—six million gulden, pricey satay! Possibly too, an architectural reference to stacked shell money seen in some parts of Eastern Indonesia or strung buds of jasmine used in offerings or simply an abacus.
Designed by Dutch government architect, Johan Gerber in 1920, the building is architecturally significant for being one of the first to combine Indonesian and European styles. The triple-tiered roof on the central tower echoes the Hindu Meru style as well as the roofline of traditional Javanese mosques. Islamic ornamentation surrounds the tower and other liberal use of Hindu, Buddhist and Islamic references combined with a European aesthetic.
Gedung Sate also mixes traditional materials such as ironwood shingles on the roof with modern construction techniques including reinforced concrete which was a new technology (in Indonesia) at the time of construction. The building is aligned with the north-south axis facing Gunung Tangkuban Perahu, in a similar way that many of Javas’s ancient palaces and temples faced sacred mountains.
The building is generally not open to the public, but the excellent Museum Gedung Sate opened in December 2017 and is free to enter, accessed via the rear of the building. The well curated museum offers interesting exhibitions on the history of Bandung and the building’s construction and symbolism, with several interactive displays. Information is in English and Indonesian with very good infographics (for the lazy readers). In some areas, sections of the wall are removed, so you can see the construction technique and audio visual displays along with augmented reality experiences make for a fun and informative visit.
A cafe operates on the premises, and if all that talk of satay makes you hungry, a small satay stall, Sate Gedung Sate is in the street behind the museum. Next door to Museum Gedung Sate is the small postal museum, Museum Pos Indonesia and close by is Museum Geologi.
Address: 22 Jalan Diponegoro, Bandung
T: (0224) 233 347;
Coordinates (for GPS): 107º37'8.99" E, 6º54'10.67" S
See position in Apple or Google Maps: Apple Maps | Google Maps
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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