The Jakarta Post
The National Monument (Monas) with 'kereta wisata' (tourist train) on its right side on Thursday, September 14, 2017. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)
The National Monument (Monas) lies at the center of Merdeka Square that is surrounded by four Medan Merdeka roads. Built in 1961 with the height of 132 meters tall, Monas becomes the symbol of Indonesians’ struggle against the Dutch’s colonization.
Aside from Monas, there are also other places near the area that should not be missed.
How to get there
Monas is easy to reach as it is located almost at the heart of the city. However, due to the government’s rule, motorcycles are not allowed to enter certain streets, such as Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat and Jl. M.H. Thamrin. Those who want to visit Monas should park their vehicle near the Lenggang Jakarta food court, or used to be known as IRTI Parking Area (Lapangan Parkir IRTI), that can be reached via Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan.
Furthermore, keep in mind that there is also odd-even license plate system that has been applied since August 2016. The system uses the day’s date as the reference for the plate numbers that will be allowed to enter certain streets, such as Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat and Jl. M.H. Thamrin. The restriction hours apply from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Monas also has its Transjakarta bus stop, therefore those who reside in Kemang should go to Blok M bus stop beforehand, while those who come from Menteng can just catch a bus via the Sarinah bus stop.
What to wear
It's acceptable to wear casual outfits, such as shorts and t-shirts if you want to visit Monas, and it's highly recommended that you wear a hat or bring an umbrella, especially if you choose to explore the place at day time.
What to do
In order to enter the Monas area, you need to walk pass through the Lenggang Jakarta food court. You will find a small bus stop for a free tourist train (kereta wisata) for people who want to directly visit the monument and vice versa.
Istiqlal Mosque (right) viewed from the peak of the National Monument (Monas) on Thursday, September 14, 2017. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)
There are two different types of entrance ticket depending on which part of the monument that you want to explore; cawan (grail) or puncak (top) with the price starts from Rp 2,000 (less than 1 US cent) for children and Rp 5,000 for adults. Also, those who are not Jakarta citizens and do not own Jakarta-One card will have to pay an additional fee of Rp 10,000.
Starting from the ticket counter, you can either visit Museum Sejarah (History Museum) in the basement level or climb up the stairs to Ruang Kemerdekaan (Independence Room). The History Museum is the place for dioramas that narrate the history of Indonesia starting from ancient times to the post-Independence period. Each of the dioramas has an explanation underneath, in both English and Indonesian.
One of the binoculars at the peak of the National Monument (Monas) on Thursday, September 14, 2017. (JP/Ni Nyoman Wira)
Meanwhile, the Independence Room is a place to listen to the speech of Indonesia’s founding father Soekarno when he read the proclamation text on Aug. 17, 1945. The text itself, which is kept inside a glass box, is also exhibited for the visitors. Both the speech and the text are showcased to the public from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. every day.
In the same level as the Independence Room, there is an entrance to an elevator to reach the peak and the grail of Monas. However, as the place only has one elevator available, visitors must be patient enough to line up and wait for the elevator. It goes straight to the peak where visitors can explore the view of Jakarta skyscrapers from a different angle. The peak area also has binoculars in some corners and small footrests. After that, the lift goes down to the grail area and the visitors must use the stairs to return to the entrance.
From Monas, you can hop on Jakarta City Tour #JakartaExplorer bus that stops at the bus stop near the entry to Lenggang Jakarta. This free-of-charge, double-decker bus has five routes (BW1-BW5) with different theme. BW1, for instance, will take you to historical spots in Jakarta, such as the National Museum, the National Archive Building, Museum of Bank Indonesia and BNI 46. On the contrary, BW5 will bring you to Kalijodo park in North Jakarta.
Read also: Jakpost guide to Jl. Surabaya
The park in the center of Building A at the National Museum. (-/Ni Nyoman Wira)
Located beside Monas in front of Jl. Medan Merdeka Barat, the National Museum of Indonesia mostly focuses its more than 140,000 collections on Indonesian culture and history. You can find inscriptions, keris (traditional Javanese dagger), fabrics, jewelry and other ancient artifacts. The museum opens from Tuesday to Sunday with the entrance ticket priced at Rp 10,000 for foreign tourists. It is advised to visit the museum’s official Twitter page in order to be updated on its latest schedule.
Situated in Jl. Medan Merdeka Timur, GPIB Immanuel is one of the oldest churches in Jakarta as it was built in the 1830s. The church is known for its dome, which was used for sermons in the past, and historic pipe organ. It has services in three languages, such as Bahasa Indonesia (6 a.m., 8 a.m. and 6:30 p.m.), Dutch (10 a.m.) and English (5 p.m.).
A Librarian arranges and ancients the manuscripts at the National Library in Medan Merdeka Selatan, Central Jakarta, Monday, September 12, 2017. The newly constructed national library house more tha 2 million books and manuscripts and will be inaugurated on September 14, 2017. (JP/Seto Wardhana)
The new National Library of Indonesia is located in Jl. Medan Merdeka Selatan and was established by President Joko Widodo on Sept. 14, as quoted by kompas.com. The building is named as one of the highest libraries in the world as it has 27 floors with the height of almost 127 meters. It has books for toddlers, children, teenagers, adults and elders. Moreover, it also has digital collections for old manuscripts, monographs and recorded voices about wayang (shadow puppet) performances.
Those who visit the library’s website may want to explore its Indonesiana page where you can find information about Indonesian-related contents, such as candi (temples) in Indonesia, history of Jakarta (Batavia), literature, film, pusaka (heritage), Presidents of Indonesia and virtual tour to Keraton (palace) Kasepuhan Cirebon as well as Taman Sari Yogyakarta.
If you want to enroll as one of the members of the library can read the requirements on its website.
What to shop
Lenggang Jakarta at the National Monument (Monas) on Thursday, September 14, 2017. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)
After visiting Monas, take your time to explore Lenggang Jakarta. It consists of food stalls that sell traditional dishes and souvenirs. It is also suggested to pay a visit to Betawi Store that is located at the right side from the Lenggang Jakarta’s entry. Placed in a traditional Betawi house, it sells t-shirts, small pouch, snacks and traditional Betawi drink Bir Pletok (herbs and spices-based beverage) with the average price of Rp 20,000.
What to eat
Having built since 1932, Ragusa Italian Ice Cream is one of the establishments that you cannot miss if you visit Monas. Located in Jl. Veteran, visitors can reach this place by hopping on Jakarta City Tour bus that will stop in Juanda or Istiqlal Mosque bus stop, after that they can walk a little bit to Ragusa.
Two of customers' favorites at the Ragusa Italian Ice Cream, Spaghetti Ice Cream and Banana Split, on Thursday, September 14, 2017. (JP/Wienda Parwitasari)
Some of the customers’ favorites are Tutti Frutti, Spaghetti Ice Cream, Cassata Siciliana and Banana Split. Unlike other ice cream products that can be found in the market, Ragusa is said to use natural ingredients that make its ice cream tastes different. Customers will also receive a glass of cold water once they order an ice cream. The average price for the ice cream is Rp 25,000.
Right beside Ragusa, there is also an establishment that sells rujak juhi, a combination of vegetables and juhi (salted cuttlefish) with peanut sauce, and otak-otak (fish cake served with peanut sauce), priced at Rp 25,000 and Rp 30,000, respectively.
If you want to have another option in dining in Jl. Veteran, you may want to visit Dapur Babah Élite. Established under Tugu Hotels & Restaurant group, the restaurant is placed in old buildings from the 1940s. Richly decorated in Indonesian antiques with romantic atmosphere, it serves ‘Peranakan’ cuisines with prices starting from Rp 100,000.
Dancing fountain at the National Monument (Monas) on Saturday, August 12, 2017. (JP/Seto Wardhana)
Presidential Palace Fun Facts
Do you know the Presidential Palace in Jakarta consists of two different buildings, serving different purposes?
Istana Merdeka (Merdeka Palace) is the one that faces the Monas area, particularly Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara. According to presidenri.go.id, the palace building process started in 1873 and was completed in 1879. During the Soekarno era, it became the living place for the President. Until this day, only three Indonesian presidents are known to have lived in Istana Merdeka; Soekarno, Abdurrahman Wahid and Joko Widodo.
Istana Merdeka also hosted other historical events, one of them, was the signing of Linggarjati Agreement on March 25, 1947. The ceremony commemorating the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence is also held annually in Istana Merdeka.
Meanwhile, the Istana Negara (State Palace) is said to be older than the Merdeka Palace as it was built in 1796. Standing back-to-back with Istana Merdeka overlooking Ciliwung river and Veteran street, it is the location state-related events such as state officials inauguration ceremonies, international and national congresses and state dinners. (asw)