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Jakarta Post

Lawang Sewu: Ahaunted, sad place

Jakarta   /   Mon, February 9 2009   /  12:44 pm

Framed view: The internal courtyard is attractively framed by galleries and cloisters. JP/Simon Marcus Gower Looming magnificently and yet sadly, over a major traffic island in central Semarang stands the building known as Lawang Sewu. Lawang Sewu has many tales to tell but today it is quite tragically neglected and wasting away. This grand building stands empty and, in parts, is desperately dilapidated. It was built by the Dutch in the mid-19th century as the headquarters for their Nederlandsch-Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij, or the Dutch Indies Rail Company. In its day it dominated the surrounding area with its high towers and sprawling footprint but in the war years of the 1940s it seems the Japanese made particularly nasty use of it. Interrogations were apparently held within the confines of the building and many of the victims were even killed by the invaders...