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Address: Jl. Letjend Suprapto 32 Semarang, Indonesia
Phone: (024) 355 4271
GPS Coordinate: S6°58'6.1" E110°25'38.7" (view map)
Kota Lama is a visual image that serves the glory of European architecture. There, some luxurious building with European style and central city planning pattern save many stories that will never come to an end.
It was not without reason when YogYES decided to walk along the paths in Kota Lama Semarang. This trip is inspired by Prof. Eko Budiharjo who said that “a city without the old part is like human without memory”. A strong desire to recall all memory in order to understand the complete history of Semarang became the reason for YogYES to visit Kota Lama. Though some buildings look old, their glory and luxury in the past can still be seen obviously. The blows of the golden morning sunlight makes those buildings look more beautiful.
The history of Kota Lama began when there was a treaty signed between Mataram Kingdom and VOC on January 15th, 1678. At that time, Amangkurat II gave Semarang to VOC as reward for helping Mataram to eradicate Trunojoyo rebellion. After Semarang had been under VOC’s power, the city started to be built. A fortress named Vijfhoek, which was used as shelter for the Dutch and as military center was also built. As the time went by, the fortress was no longer sufficient for the people, so they built houses on the east side of the fortress. Not only houses, but offices and government center were also established.
From the beginning, the development of Kota Lama, which at that time was called Europeeshe Buurt, structurally and architecturally refer to the concept of the city development in Europe. Different from the structure of the cities or palaces in Java, which fully paid attention to the points of the compass, the structure of the building has radial pattern with Blenduk church and Government office as the center. Around this area, there are water canals that still can be seen today. Although it didn’t concern with the points of the compass, it adopted Javanese culture by placing government office, public space, and religious place in one area as a unity.
Seeing the rapid development of the city, VOC decided to destroy Vijfhoek fortress and rebuilt a new one surrounded Kota Lama. This condition caused Kota Lama was often called as Little Netherland. Furthermore, located separately from the landscape like the cities in Europe, great fortress, and water canals around it made Kota Lama was similar to mini Holland in Semarang. To make easy access for the Dutch, there was connecting channel from the fortress to the main road named de Herenstaart, which now becomes Letjend Suprapto street. This street, which is in front of Blenduk church was part of 1000 kms street spread out from Anyer to Panarukan.
One building that you should visit in Kota Lama is Blenduk church, which is more than 250 years old. This church, which is originally named Nederlandsch Indische Kerk, is still used for religious activities and becomes a landmark of Semarang. It is called blenduk (dome) because the shape of its red dome, which is made of bronze. There are also twins tower in front of this building. The indigenous people felt difficult to pronounce a Dutch word, so they pronounce it as blenduk. A name change also happens in Berok bridge that used to be the gate of Kota Lama. The word burg meaning bridge, was mispronounced as berok and this term is still used today.
Other building that is also impressive and saves many stories is Marabunta hall with giant ants ornament on the roof. Het Noorden, abuilding that is nowadays used as the office of Suara Merdeka Group, was the first place where history of printing media started in Semarang. Near this building, there was a cigarette factory named Praoe Lajar. In other part of the city, there was Tawang train station with its indis architectural style. This station is still actively operated. In front of this station was Tawang water reservoir, a place where water was collected before being thrown to the sea. After going around Kota Lama, YogYES took time to relax at Srigunting park that used to be an open green space used by the army to display parade or other entertaining performance. In addition, in front of this park, we could see Jiwasraya building that used to become the office of VOC. Sitting on a bench in a beautiful park surrounded by European style buildings made us feel like Dutch ladies who was in tour.