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The return of Semarang’s Old Town

Ganug Nugroho Adi

The Jakarta Post

Semarang, Central Java  /  Mon, April 10, 2017  /  02:23 pm
The return of Semarang’s Old Town

A man on a bicycle passes one of the colonial buildings in Kota Lama, Semarang. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

There is often one exotic historic area in every city waiting to be explored. In Semarang, Central Java, the area is named Kota Lama (Old Town) or Outstadt.

Situated in the intersection of Jl. Pemuda and Jl. Imam Bonjol, Kota Lama is also known as Little Netherlands. Established in the 18th century when Indonesia was a Dutch colony, its location is currently separated from a residential area.

One of Kota Lama's abandoned buildings.(JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

The center of Kota Lama is Blenduk Church (Nederlandsch Indische Kerk). Built in 1753, the church is the oldest building in the area.

In addition to Blenduk Church, there are more than 50 well-maintained colonial buildings in Kota Lama, displaying 18th century European architecture. Once visitors step foot in the area, they feel as if they are being transported back 200 years.

One of the corners of Kota Lama. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

(Read also: Mangrove tourism abundant in Semarang)

Despite its rich history, Kota Lama was once forgotten, leading it to becoming a red-light district as well as a center of cockfighting.

Built in 1753, the Blenduk Church is the oldest building in Kota Lama. (JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

Fortunately, the city administration kicked off efforts to revive the area a year ago. The illegal street vendors, cockfighting rings and prostitutes were removed. The old buildings have been renovated and transformed into offices, banks and restaurants, creating a lively ambiance during the nighttime. The government also opened the Klitikan Market, which hosts antique shops. Tourism police can also be seen strolling the area to provide safety for visitors.

Visitors pose in front of Klitikan Market.(JP/Ganug Nugroho Adi)

Although some abandoned buildings across the area remain to be rejuvenated, Kota Lama is still an interesting place to explore, especially for history buffs. (jes/kes)

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