We were introduced to Semarang where we get to experience some local delicacy (blogged HERE) and covered a few amazing places. Semarang is the 5th largest city in Indonesia, and its harbor is at the heart of central Java, making it a regional center of commerce for Java Island.
Semarang history dated as far back as 1678 when Sunan Amangkurat II promised to give control of Semarang to the Dutch East India Company (VOC) as a part of a debt payment, this sets the beginning of the Dutch colonial era in this city. It was made official in 1705 when Susuhunan Pakubuwono I made another deal to give extensive trade rights to the VOC in exchange of wiping out Mataram's debt in which prolonged and empowered Dutch to have full control of Semarang. This is when the VOC establishes tobacco plantations, and build roads and railroads thus making Semarang an important colonial trading centre; similar to the British colonial administration in Asia as well as India.
Most of the Chinese settlements existed in the north coast of Java, and most of them are traders and merchants, this is way before Dutch arrive in the 17th century.
The skilled Chinese artisans assisted the Dutch in the construction of Batavia (Jakarta), making Batavia the home to the largest Chinese community in the archipelago and remains so in the 21st century. As a result of this, several Chinese temples emerged which includes Sam Po Kong, built in honor of the Chinese Great Admiral Zheng He and Tay Kak Sie Temple.
Due to Dutch colonial and oriental influence, Semarang boost as a city of architectural and culinary wonders, yet always fall under the radar. Few Semarang attractions that we visited during this 5 days trip covering Semarang and Jogjakarta are as below. A must visit place if you plan to drop by in this beautiful and wondrous city.
Gedung Batu Temple or Sam Poo Kong Temple
Also known as Gedung Batu Temple, Sam Poo Kong Temple is the oldest Chinese temple in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia. It is said that this temple was built in honour of Admiral Cheng Ho; a famous Chinese Muslim explorer in the 15th century who visited the Semarang in 1405.
Ambarawa Train Station
Once a military city during the Dutch Colonial Government, Ambarawa now has a unique museum focuses on the collection of steam locomotives. The construction of the new railway is to enable the transport of troops to Semarang. In April 1976, this Ambarawa Railway Station was converted into the Ambarawa Railway Museum.
The heritage railway between Ambarawa-Bedono is currently operated by steam locomotive. Aside from this, there is also a tourist railway servicing Ambarawa-Tuntang.
One of Semarang landmark is the Lawang Sewu or Thousand Doors; a headquarters of the Dutch railway company. Famous for being haunted, this Dutch colonial has gone thru few attempt of unsuccessful rebranding and repositioning by the local council.
Japanese occupied the building and used the dungeons for interrogation and prison during the WW2, where else the basement was used as a killing fields of the indigenous population, young Indonesian and Dutch troops. Lawang Sewu complex was completed in 1919 and later seized by the Japanese in 1940s. It was initially used by the Nederlandsch-Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij, the first railway company in the Dutch East Indies.
Obviously there are many more that you guys can visit aside from this 3, hence a 2 days 1 night trip is highly not advisable *wink*. Spend abit more time here and am sure you will love it, not to forget, Semarang is also a food heaven.
Semarang-Jogjakarta Fam Trip is in collaboration with Tourism Indonesia and all its sponsors with #MATTA as Fam Trip coordinator.