BARAT / TAMAN SARI

Kota Tua, which translates to “Old Town”, has been around ever since Jakarta was known as Batavia when Indonesia was still under Dutch colonial rule. Located in the Taman Sari subdistrict of West Jakarta, Kota Tua is one of the few locations in Jakarta (and undoubtedly the most famous) that has kept its colonial heritage, at least in terms of appearances. This is most evident in the area’s architecture, which, if the tropical heat and air pollution of Jakarta were to be ignored, gives the impression that one is in the Netherlands. As a result of construction regulations back in the day, buildings are uniformly white or beige and rarely above three-stories tall. While many historical buildings have deteriorated over time, efforts are being made to restore them to keep the capital’s history intact. Motorized vehicles are forbidden in much of Kota Tua, which has street networks that closely resemble classic European alleys. All alleys converge in Fatahillah Square, a huge town square that is sprawled right in front of the Jakarta History Museum (formerly Batavia’s City Hall in the 18th century). Street performers are common here, including the likes of the ondel-ondel puppet dance, mimes, and acrobats. Locals have taken advantage of Kota Tua’s tourism draw to make a living. Street sketch artists line up with souvenir sellers along some of Kota Tua’s busiest alleys, offering tourists a piece of Kota Tua to take home with them. Clusters of street food vendors, which mostly sell the Jakarta staples like mie bakso and ayam kremes, can also be found in Kota Tua.
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