Semarang Old Town History in Central Java

Semarang Old Town is a tourist spot that has the nickname Little Netherland, situated in Semarang, Central Java. This area is named Kota Lama (Old Town) because the buildings in this area have an old architectural style.


The Little Netherland tourist spot offers beautiful buildings in the European architectural style of the 1700s. These buildings are silent witnesses to the history of the Dutch colonial period in Java. Moreover, there are water canals built by the colonial government around the Semarang Old Town.


In this area, there are many famous Semarang icons such as the Blenduk Church, cigarette factory, stations and many more that have a typical European style in the past.


the semarang old town offers beautiful buildings in the European architectural style



The Old Town has been bustling since the 17th century. At that time, this area was one of the centers of trade in Indonesia. In the 18th to 19th centuries, many Chinese and Arab traders filled the area.


The public facilities in Semarang’s Old Town itself are fairly complete and good. Starting from prayer rooms, roads, toilets to trash bins are available in sufficient quantities and good condition.


Tourists can also travel around the Old Town of Semarang by cycling and crossing the designated route. The journey usually will start from Monod Diephuis, Blendhuk Church, Berok Bridge, Empu Tantular Street, Marabunta, Letjen Suprapto Street and back to the starting point.


The location of Semarang Old Town, surrounded by canals with European-style buildings, makes this area similar to another city in the Netherlands. Historically, this area is the forerunner of the development of Semarang City and has an area of about ± 31 ha. At first the Old Town Semarang area was used as a center of government, offices and trade. This area has a lot of historical value. The center of the Old Town area is at Srigunting Park, a park located in the heart of Semarang’s Old Town area.


the character of buildings in the Old Town of Semarang follows buildings in Europe around the 1700s



In the past this park was a field called Parade Plein, most likely because it was often used for military parades because not far from the location there was a military barracks. Before becoming a field, this park had a function as a kerkhof or cemetery for European citizens, before in the early 19th century the kerkhof was moved to the Pengapon 1 area.


In general, the character of buildings in the Old Town of Semarang follows buildings in Europe around the 1700s. This can be seen from the distinctive building details and ornaments that are identical to the European style, such as large door and window sizes, the use of colored glass, unique roof shapes, and basements. Buildings from the past, such as the Blenduk Church, Marba Building, Johar Market, Marabunta Building and many more.


Semarang Old Town is a visualization of the luxury and splendor of European architecture in the past. The Old Town is nicknamed as Indonesia’s Little Netherland with a separate location with a landscape similar to European cities and surrounded by water canals that make the Old Town like a miniature of the Land of the Windmills.


There are many spots in Kota Lama that can be seen as vintage tourist attractions, such as Garuda Park, the intersection area between Garuda Street, Gelatik Street and General Soeprapto Street, Blenduk Church and many more.


The Old Town area was not only the center of government but also the center of trade in Semarang during the Dutch colonial era. Buildings such as banks, warehouses, offices and religious buildings are some of the remaining colonial relics that can still be enjoyed today. Almost all the buildings left over from the colonial era still stand firmly but are not well maintained. Currently, unused buildings have begun to be repaired and maintained as commercial buildings in the form of cafes, museums and exhibition venues.


semarang old town as the center of trade in Semarang during the Dutch colonial era



Other than the physical buildings, the Semarang Old Town area is also increasingly unkempt in terms of the cleanliness of the natural environment such as the Mberok river which looks very dirty and smelly and the presence of illegal buildings around the riverbanks. The buildings in the Old Town of Semarang are generally owned by individuals, making it difficult to develop the Old Town of Semarang. Claims to land ownership are usually based on hereditary certificates and the buildings are now mostly used as warehouses for business goods. The poor quality of Semarang’s environment adds to the complexity of the development of the Old Town of Semarang.


Floods and tidal disasters that still occur frequently in the North Semarang area have an impact on the Old Town. The image of the Old Town as a safe area for tourists is slightly disturbed by the condition of the environment at night which is quiet and poorly lit due to individual land ownership.


Existing buildings in the Old Town, should be utilized as more lively buildings such as by making it a commercial designation during the day and remain an attraction of activity until the evening.


As a colonial city with full of history, the Old Town can be used as a unique tourism object by carrying the historical value of the development of Semarang City. Most of the buildings in Semarang Old Town are historical relics of the past that deserve to be preserved. The buildings are Blenduk Church, Marba Building, Johar Market, Marabunta Building, Susteran, Polder, Tawang Station, Berok Bridge and many more. With so many buildings characterized by Dutch Colonial architecture as tourist attractions, it will certainly attract tourists to visit the area.


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