Kota (Indonesian: Kota Tua Jakarta), is a small area in Jakarta, Indonesia. It is also known as Old Jakarta, and Old Batavia (Dutch: Oud Batavia). It spans 1.3 square kilometres of North Jakarta and West Jakarta (Kelurahan Pinangsia, Taman Sari and Kelurahan Roa Malaka, Tambora). Kota is Indonesian word for "city", it was the reminiscent of the vicinity during colonial times in the 16th century that the city was only within Batavia walled compound (today Kota), while the surrounding areas was only kampung (villages), orchards, and ricefields. The largely Chinese downtown area of Glodok is a central part of Kota.
Dubbed "The Jewel of Asia" and "Queen of the East" in the 16th century by European sailors, Old Jakarta — or Batavia, as it was named by the Dutch — was once a center of commerce for the whole continent due to its strategic location and abundant resources.
In 1526, Fatahillah, sent by Sultanate of Demak, invaded Hindu Pajajaran's port of Sunda Kelapa, after which he renamed it into Jayakarta. This town was only 15 hectare in size and had a typical Javanese harbour lay-out. In 1619 the VOC destroyed Jayakarta under the command of Jan Pieterszoon Coen. A year later the VOC built a new town named "Batavia" to honor Batavieren, the Dutch ancestors. This city was centered around the east bank of the Ciliwung river, around present day Fatahillah Square.
In 1635 the city expanded towards the west banks of Ciliwung, on the ruins of former Jayakarta. The city was designed in European Dutch style complete with a fortress (Kasteel Batavia), city wall, and canals. The city was arranged in several blocks separated by canals. The city of Batavia was completed in 1650. It became the headquarters of the VOC in the East Indies. The canals were filled up due to outbreaks of tropical diseases within the city walls because of poor sanitation. The city began to expand further south as epidemics in 1835 and 1870 forced more and more people to move out of the cramped city, to the Weltevreden area (now the area surrounding Merdeka Square). The city later became the administrative center of the Dutch East Indies. In 1942 during the Japanese occupation, Batavia was renamed Jakarta, and still serves as the capital city of Indonesia.
In 1972, the Governor of Jakarta, Ali Sadikin, issued a decree that officially made the Jakarta Kota area into a heritage site. The governor's decision was necessary in order to preserve the city's architectural roots — or at least what was left of it.
Despite the Governor's Decree, the old town remains neglected. Even though the majority was pleased just by the issuing of the decree, not enough was being done to protect and conserve the legacy from the Dutch colonial era.
As important settlement, urban center, and the center of commerce in Asia since the 16th century, Oud Batavia is home of several important historical sites and buildings:
- Luar Batang Mosque
- The Port of Sunda Kelapa
- Pasar Ikan (Fish Market)
- Maritime Museum and Menara Syahbandar
- Kota Intan Drawbridge
- Kali Besar (Grootegracht)
- Gereja Sion
- Wayang Museum
- Fine Art and Ceramic Museum (Former Court of Justice of Batavia)
- Jakarta History Museum (Former City Hall of Batavia)
- Cafe Batavia
- Toko Merah
- Chartered Bank
- Bank Indonesia Museum
- Bank Mandiri Museum
- Jakarta Kota Station (Beos Station)
- Glodok and Pinangsia Area (Jakarta Chinatown)
- Petak Sembilan
- Jin De Yuan Temple (Vihara Dharma Bhakti)
- Chandranaya Building
Nowadays, many remaining historical buildings and architecture are steadily deteriorating; at best, "dilapidated". such as; Jakarta History Museum (Former city hall of Batavia, the office and residence of VOC governor general), Maritime Museum of Indonesia, Sunda Kelapa harbour, and The Batavia Hotel which was formerly the well-known Omni Batavia Hotel.
However, there is still much hope in restoring the area, especially with various non-profit organizations, private institutions, and even the government recently stepping up to the plate to rejuvenate Old Jakarta's legacy. In 2007, several streets surrounding Fatahillah square such as Pintu Besar street and Pos Kota street, were closed to vehicles as a first step towards the rejuvenation.
- Kota Tua Jakarta booklet, Dinas Kebudayaan dan Permuseuman Pemerintah Provinsi DKI Jakarta
- 75% of Old Town Crumbling -- No Incentive from the Government, Kompas, March 6, 2006
- Jakarta's Old Town sees hope for revival, IOL
- Old Town Revitalization Becomes a Priority for Provincial Gov't of DKI Jakarta, Kompas, June 10, 2006
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