Monday, December 20, 2010

Where to Go in Jakarta During the Holidays

As Christmas and New Year’s celebrations are only a few days away, it’s about time to make a list of places where you and your loved ones can spend quality time together during the holidays. Why not try to avoid Jakarta’s shopping centers and malls for a change? After all, you’re there all the time. Instead, you should consider attending some of the cultural attractions which, surprisingly, are scattered all over town.

The Jakarta Globe has made its own list of five events and cultural sites that might help spread a little cheer, or at the very least some adventure, on your holiday.

Museum Nasional

The Museum Nasional, or National Museum, is the oldest cultural storehouse in the country, established in 1869 by the Dutch colonial government.

It houses the country’s largest historical and cultural collection, with more than 141,000 items.

Immanuel Church

Not far from Gereja Katedral is another historical church that’s worth a visit.

When the Immanuel Church was built in 1834 by the Dutch, it was originally named Williamskerk Church, in honor of King Willem I.

“This is probably the only historic building in Jakarta that’s still used for what it was built for in the past,” said 21-year-old Ben Matulapelwa, a member of the church’s congregation.

While parts of the church appear in need of renovation, Immanuel Church still retains some of its past glory.

Most were collected from Indonesia’s own backyard, but there are also some items that were purchased from other countries.

John Guy, a curator of Southeast Asian art at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York, was at the museum recently taking pictures of Hindu-Buddhist sculptures.

“Museum Nasional is one of the best museums in Southeast Asia,” he said. “[It] has so many collections.”

The museum is also sometimes called the Elephant Museum because of the bronze elephant statue in front of the building, a gift from King Chulalongkom of Thailand in 1871.

Gereja Katedral

Located just across from the Masjid Istiqlal in Central Jakarta, the country’s largest mosque, Gereja Katedral is a grand Catholic house of worship.

The imposing neo-Gothic structure featuring twin spires was built in 1901 in honor of Saint Maria, reconstructed from an older church.

According to the cathedral’s 38-year-old priest, Justinus Sigit, the building’s vertical design differs from the wide construction of many of today’s churches and symbolizes the church’s efforts to reach upward toward the heavens.

He pointed out that, like other Catholic churches, the cathedral was full of symbols that play a critical role in Catholic theology.

“A lot of modern churches do not use many symbols anymore, and that’s a pity,” he said.

Museum Kebangkitan Nasional

Located in Central Jakarta, this museum focuses on the time in Indonesian history known as the National Awakening.

It is a one-stop source for learning how Budi Utomo, the first Indonesian political organization, and other early modern political parties were founded in Indonesia and the role they played in the country’s eventual independence from the Dutch.

Museum Bank Mandiri

Museum Bank Mandiri, located in Kota Tua (Old Town) in North Jakarta, is a beautiful building consisting of white walls and monolithic pillars that houses an exhibition about the history of banking in Indonesia.

“[Museum Bank Mandiri] is the largest bank museum in Indonesia,” said Edi Dimyati, author of “An Adventurer’s Guide: 47 Museums of Jakarta.”

Run by government-owned Bank Mandiri, Edi said there are more than 31,000 items on display, including old counting machines, bank vaults, bank notes, paper money and coins.

Upcoming events

Afternoon Tea Discussion at Museum Nasional
‘Media’s Role in Our Culture Heading Toward the Year 2020’
With speakers Desi Anwar and Bambang Tanrejo
Dec. 17, from 3 p.m.

Protestant Prayer and Choir at Immanuel Church
Dec. 24, from 5 p.m.
Open to the public

Catholic Mass and Choir at Gereja Katedral
Dec. 25, from 9 a.m.
Open to the public

Protestant Prayer and Choir at Immanuel Church
Dec. 24, from 5 p.m.
Open to the public

A New Year’s Eve at Nederlandsche Handel Matschppij Building at Museum Bank Mandiri
Museum tour and live music
Dec. 31, from 7 p.m.
Rp 100,000, includes food, drinks and a noisemaker

Read more..

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