It's also dubbed as 'Little Netherland.'


Kota Lama Semarang is famous for visitors who want to travel and learn about history. This area provides a tribute to a long-gone civilization. Like Jakarta's Kota Tua, this region has a variety of European-style buildings, making it a favorite among vintage photographers. Its public facility includes a prayer room and a restroom, providing ideal necessities for tourists.

Semarang's Kota Lama is sometimes known as "Little Netherlands" because, within this 31-hectare area, there are approximately 102 historic buildings from the Dutch era. Semarang's Kota Lama has many different architectural styles, like art deco, Renaissance, baroque, and Semarangan. Lawang Sewu, the Papak Building, Oen Shop, and Johar Market are the most well-known places in the city.

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It started as a town called Oudstadst that started to grow in the 1800s, but it wasn't until then that it began to grow. Since the 17th century, Kota Lama has been a bustling place full of people and things to do. This was one of Indonesia's main trading places at the time. 

During that time, the Vijhoek fort was built. It kept the old city safe. Then, from the 18th to the 19th centuries, many Chinese and Arab traders lived in this part of the country. It later turned into a place where people did business from the 19th century to the 20th century.

The historic deal

A deal between the Mataram Kingdom and the VOC helps us understand the history of Semarang's Kota Lama. To get help from the VOC, the Mataram Kingdom had to give up Semarang.

The agreement took place on January 15, 1678. This led to constructing a wide range of structures, including government buildings, private homes, and canals.

The roads in the Kota Lama area can also speed up communication between the three gates. In the old days, the main road was called Heeren Staart, now known as Jl. Letjen Suprapto. According to the Jogjgaprov DPAD, this area has offices, trade, hotels, and European-style towns. 

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The Blenduk Church is also a notable landmark in the area around Tawang Station while the West Indonesia Protestant Church (GPIB "Immanuel") has existed since 1753. Meanwhile, the Plein Parade, used to be called Sri Gunting, a city plant is placed outside the church.

Behind the church, near Garuda Park, is PT. Indonesian Trading Company. This edifice was refurbished as a Small and Medium Industry Gallery or Creative Industry Gallery, with street vendors selling antiques in one section. Visitors to Semarang's Old Town can see several refurbished buildings. Examples include the former Javasche Bank building, now the Semarang Creative Gallery, the Marba Building, and the Spiegel Building, presently a bar and cafe.

Bike lane

There is a set route for tourists to follow when riding a bicycle around Semarang's Kota Lama area. According to Katadata, visitors will see a lot of old and unique buildings as soon as they get on the main road. There are also the Great Post Office and Semarang Zero Kilometers landmarks.

Follow the route for 100 km to find a bridge across the Semarang River. Previously known as Gouvernementsbrug, locals call it Brug. It is currently known as Mberok or Berok Bridge. Once, just this bridge allowed entrance to the Old City. Mberok began as a suspension bridge and was later made permanent.

When crossing this bridge, you will see a typical Dutch corporate structure. Previously known as Westenwal Straat, this area is occupied by Bank Mandiri, PT Phapros, PT Pelni, GKBI, and other offices.

Flood risk is real

Despite its potential, sadly, Little Netherland has been abandoned in several ways. To help preserve the area, 101 old buildings were made cultural heritage by a decree from the Mayor of Semarang Number 646/50/1992. 

In the book The Beauty of One of the Archeologists at the Javanese Cultural Center, published by Tempo, this area has been named a cultural heritage site. However, not all old buildings are as well kept as the Bleduk Church. Some are going down with time, vandalism, and disasters.

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There's still hope for saving parts of Semarang's Kota Lama, says Eko Budiharjo, a professor of urban architecture and the Semarang City Development Council chairman. However, just making it a cultural heritage is insufficient.






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