Ingloriously dubbed ‘Sukarno’s final erection’, this 132m-high national monument, towering over Merdeka Sq, is both Jakarta’s principal landmark and the most famous architectural extravagance of the former president. Begun in 1961, this typically masculine column was not completed until 1975, when it was officially opened by Suharto. The monument is constructed from Italian marble, and is topped with a sculpted flame, gilded with 35kg of gold leaf.
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Facing the Catholic Cathedral is Jakarta's principal place of Muslim worship, the modernistic Mesjid Istiqlal, which was constructed under Soekarno and is reputedly the largest mosque in Southeast Asia.
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The biggest draw card in the larger Ancol recreation park is
Dunia Fantasi, a fun park that must have raised eyebrows at the Disney legal
department. Similarities to Disneyland start at the 'main street' entrance and
extend to the Puppet Castle, a straight 'it's a small world'
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Gedung Pancasila is an imposing neoclassical building built in 1830 as the Dutch army commander’s residence. It later became the meeting hall of the Volksraad (People’s Council), but is best known as the place where Sukarno made his famous Pancasila speech in 1945, laying the foundation for Indonesia’s constitution.
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Jakarta History Museum
The Jakarta History Museum is housed in the old town hall of
Batavia, and is probably one of the most solid reminders of Dutch rule within
Indonesia. This bell-towered hall, built in 1627, served the administration of the
city. It was also used by the city law courts, and its dungeons were the main prison
compound of Batavia.
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Just east of Merdeka Sq, in front of the Hotel Borobudur Jakarta, Lapangan Banteng was laid out by the Dutch in the 19th century, and the area has some of Jakarta’s best colonial architecture.
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Near the entrance to Sunda Kelapa, an old Dutch East India
Company warehouse built in 1645 has been turned into a maritime museum. It exhibits
craft from around Indonesia and has an interesting collection of old photographs
recreating the voyage to Jakarta from Europe via Aden, Ceylon and Singapore. The
sentry posts outside are part of the old city wall.
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On the western side of Merdeka Sq, the Museum Nasional, built in 1862, is the best of its kind in Indonesia and one of the finest in Southeast Asia. It has an enormous collection of cultural objects of the various ethnic groups around the country - costumes, musical instruments, model houses and so on - and numerous fine bronzes from the Hindu-Javanese period, as well as many interesting stone pieces salvaged from the Central Javanese and other temples.
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The old port of Sunda Kelapa has more sailing ships - the
magnificent Makassar schooners - than you ever thought existed. These brightly
painted ships are an important means of transport and freight delivery between the
capital and the outer islands. They also provide one of the most spectacular sights
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Taman Mini Indonesia Indah
In the city's southeast, near Kampung Rambutan, Taman Mini
Indonesia Indah is one of those 'whole country in one park' collections popular in
Asia. Conceived by Madame Tien Soeharto in 1971, the park was opened in 1975 after
the families inhabiting the land were cleared out and an estimated US$26 million was
spent on the project.
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