As the capital of Indonesia, Jakarta Architecture is graced with many of the country’s most important landmarks, from historical buildings to modern skyscrapers. Whether it is to admire them from afar while walking by, or to explore deeper, here’s our guide to the most impressive buildings you need to see in Jakarta.
Colonial Jakarta Architecture
Colonial buildings and structures in Jakarta include those that were constructed during the Dutch colonial period of Indonesia. The period (and the subsequent style) succeeded the earlier period when Jakarta, governed by the Sultanate of Banten, was completely eradicated and replaced with a walled city of Batavia. The dominant styles of the colonial period can be divided into three periods: the Dutch Golden Age (17th to late 18th century), the transitional style period (late 18th century – 19th century), and Dutch modernism (20th century). Dutch colonial architecture in Jakarta is apparent in buildings such as houses or villas, churches, civic buildings, and offices mostly concentrated in the administrative city of Central Jakarta and West Jakarta.
This translates as “the independence mosque” in Arabic, and was built to commemorate Indonesia’s independence. Realizing that the country is home to the largest Muslim population in the world, the then-government went all-out in constructing the grand mosque, which is still Southeast Asia’s largest. The building’s architecture is rich with symbolic meanings, representing either the country’s year of independence, the birthday of the Islamic prophet Muhammad, or the seven Islamic heavens. The grand architecture reflects both traditional Indonesian and Islamic culture. Tourists are welcome to tour the mosque, and many world leaders have had the pleasure, including former US President Barack Obama, King Salman of Saudi Arabia, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, and more.
As Indonesia has the biggest Muslim population in the world, it may seem surprising to find a majestic Neo-Gothic Roman Catholic Cathedral at its heart. St. Mary of the Assumption Cathedral has been towering tall since 1901, just across from the massive Istiqlal Mosque. Dedicated to the Virgin Mary, the building is gracefully filled with adoration symbols, from centuries-old altars to statues and paintings. Built in a Neo-Gothic style, many of the cathedral’s materials and objects were sourced from the Netherlands, including its pipe organ and main altar. The cathedral comprises three main spires, one of which houses a museum showcasing relics of Catholic rituals.