Not many realize that the city of Semarang, capital of Central Java, harbors an Old Town that take visitors back to the heydays of the colonial era in the time of the Dutch East Indies.
Earlier known as the Oudstad, or Old Town in Dutch, it is located at Jalan Jl. Letnan Jenderal Soeprapto Street, Tanjung Mas area, near the harbor. Here is is where 18th century buildings have been well preserved with many still in use to this day.
Here is a list of attractions, To Do and Hang Outs in the Old Town,that you should definitely not miss when on a visit to Semarang.
1 The iconic Blenduk Protestant Church
Right at the heart of the Oudstad or Semarang Old Town is the iconic Blenduk Church or the church with a dome. Built in 1753, the Church is the oldest Protestant Church in Central Java. Originally built in the traditional Javanese ‘Joglo’ style, the church underwent a remodeling in 1894 into the iconic Doric design that can be seen today. The emblematic octagonal copper dome (also known as mblenduk in the Javanese language) is said to be inspired by the Church of St Peter Basilica in the Vatican City. Other iconic features of this church are the two surrounding clock towers, the stately baroque organ, floating octagonal pulpit, antique spiral wrought iron staircase and rattan teak pews
2 The Tawang Train Station
If Jakarta has the Beos Train Station in Old Batavia, the Semarang’s Oudstad also has a classic train station that features distinct vintage European architecture called the Tawang Train Station. Built in 1870 by the Nederlandsch-Indische Spoorwegmaatschapij (Netherlands East Indies Railway Company), Tawang station is one of the oldest and biggest train stations in Indonesia that is still very much inoperation to this very day.
3 The Oldest Kretek Cigarette Factory
Another unique building you will find here is the Praoe Lajar Cigarette Factory. Producing Indonesia’s classic ‘kretek’ clove cigarettes popular since the Dutch colonial era, the factory is probably one of the oldest cigarette producers in the country. The building’s main entrance is located on the east side, at the intersection point of the streets leading to the Tawang Train Station on its north side and to the center of the Old City Conservation Area to its south. The main entrance also stands out through its rich detailing such as the half-circle glass transom over the balcony and the rich stained-glass patterned window with its company logo.
4 Paradise for Antique Collectors
In addition tothe unique Dutch colonial atmosphere, the Semarang Old Town complex is also a paradise for antique hunters. Here, you can find thousands of antiques and vintage goods as well as other unique or vintage handicraft that you display at home as special mementos.
Centered at jalan Srigunting Street near the Blenduk Church, some 40 antiques sellers display their collections to visitors. From antique Dutch colonial currencies to a unique old saxophone, here you can find an abundance of unique items with prices ranging from IDR10 thousands to millions. The sellers are members of the Art Items Sellers Association (PADANGSARI) that specializes in antiques and unique items. Among the unique vintage collections you can find here are antique water bottles, antique weapons, old military outfits, cow bells, bracelets, musical instruments, old irons and plates, and a whole lot more.
Reconstruction of the Oudstad is ongoing to restore some of the buildings back to their former glory and to be used for present day amenities for shopping, art galleries and other creative industries.
5 3D Trick Art Museum
Among the historic sites and classic buildings, there is also a modern touch to Semarang’s old Town. First opened in 2016, the Old City 3d Trick Art Museum (www.oldcity3d.com) offers the opportunity for visitors to enter a 3D optical illusion realm allowing all to capture amazing photographs. Although it is relatively a modern attraction, the museum is housed in a building that features classic architecture and blends perfectly with the nearby heritage buildings.
Old Towns’ vintage style Cafés and Bistros
As one gets immersed in the nostalgic ambiance, and after a day of strolling and shopping, the Oudstad is the perfect place to enjoy scrumptious meals and exquisite coffees. With a growing cafe and bistro culture, the trendy cafes you will find in this city will surely rival any found in New York, Seoul or Melbourne.
6 Spiegel Bar and Bistro
A popular spot among the Semarang youth is the modern yet retro colonial Dutch inspired hangout, the Spiegel Bar and Bistro. Established in 1895 and located in front of the Blenduk Church in the Old City District, this bistro and bar is renowned for its artisanal coffee, delicious cocktails and refreshing mocktails.When you step into the venue, the impressive modern yet rustic interior will transport you back in time. This establishment serves a variety of Western and Italian inspired dishes and boasts an amazing rooftop view, where patrons can sit back, relax and take in the beautiful city landscape.
Location: Jalan Let Jen. Soeprapto No 34
7 Toko Deko Koffiehuis
Another notable cafe is the Teko Deko Koffiehuis. This humble establishment first opened in 2015 and is already well known among the community for serving sensational coffee and delectable yet affordable European inspired food. The refurbished colonial Dutch designed building frequently hosts a variety of events such as workshops, seminars and talk shows and akin to the Spiegel Bistro and Bar, provides breathtaking views from their rooftop.
Location: Jalan Let.Jen Soeprapto No. 44,
8 Retro Cafe
Situated at Garuda Street just behind the Blenduk Church, the Retro Café offers a simple ‘retro’ atmosphere as well as delicious menus. As the favorite hangout spot for the young, the café is decorated with numerous old images of Semarang, an antique bicycles, a classic European motorbike, a grandfather’s clock, an old sewing machine, and other unique items.
Location: Jl. Garuda, behind Blenduk Church
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