Merdeka Palace

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Merdeka Palace
Merdeka Palace Changing Guard 2.jpg
General information
Architectural style Neoclassic
Location Jalan Medan Merdeka Utara Gambir
Jakarta 10160, Indonesia
Construction started 1873
Client Governor-General of The Dutch East Indies
Design and construction
Architect Drossares

Merdeka Palace (English: or Independence Palace, Indonesian: Istana Merdeka, Dutch: Paleis Koningsplein), is a palace in Central Jakarta, Indonesia, used as the official residence of the President of the Republic of Indonesia. The palace is located directly in front of Merdeka Square and The National Monument. The palace previously served as a residence for the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies during the colonial era. In 1949, the palace was renamed Merdeka Palace, "merdeka" is an Indonesian word for "freedom" or "independence". Merdeka Palace together with Negara Palace, along with a few structures in the complex, such as Wisma Negara (State Guesthouse), Sekretariat Negara (State Secretariat), and Bina Graha Building make up the Presidential Palace complex; the center of Indonesian executive authority.


Negara Palace[edit]

The building today known as Istana Negara (State Palace) was originally built as the residence for a Dutch businessman, J. A. van Braam. Rijswijk and Molenvliet (presently known as Harmoni), the location chosen as the time was the most exclusive neighborhood in Weltevreden area, the New Batavia. During its early years, only the State Palace stood in this complex. The State Palace was built in 1796 facing north toward Ciliwung river bank, during the era of Pieter Gerardus van Overstraten as Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies, and completed in 1804.

In 1820, this mansion was rented and then sold to the Dutch Colonial Government in 1821. The government used this building as the center of all administration and as the official residence of the Governor-General during a stay in Batavia, for occasions or events such as the Indies Council Meeting held every Wednesday. The Governor-Generals preferred to live in Bogor Palace (Paleis te Buitenzorg) in Bogor (Buitenzorg), due to the cooler and more adaptable temperatures in the hillsides of Bogor.

The mansion of van Braam was bought due because of a need for the Dutch government to centralize power. However, Daendels Palace (currently Treasury Department) in Lapangan Banteng (formerly known as Waterloo Square) was not completed yet. Upon the completion of Daendels Palace, plans to centralize power changed, and the mansion of van Braam officially became the residence of the governor-general, and Daendels Palace housed administrative buildings. Hotel van den Gouverneur-Generaal (Hotel of the Governor-General) became the official name of the van Braam mansion.

During the Colonial era, important events took place in this building. Some of which include the declaration of the cultuur stelsel system by the Governor Graaf van den Bosch, and the ratification ceremony of the Linggadjati Agreement on March 25, 1947.

Merdeka Palace[edit]

The governor-general's mansion at the turn of the 19th century

During the mid-19th century, the palace does not suffice the accommodation of its administrative purposes, and under orders from J.W. van Lansberge, a new building was built within the complex in 1873 during the Governor General Loudon administration, and finished in 1879 during Governor General Johan Willem van Lansberge administration. This neoclassical building, designed by Drossaers, was built in southern part of the complex directly facing Koningsplein (now Merdeka Square). The new Governor General palace at Koningsplein was also known as Istana Gambir (Gambir Palace).

After the war of Indonesian revolution from 1945–1949 and after the Netherlands official recognition of Indonesian independence, the Indonesian declaration of independence from the Dutch in 1949 was announced in Gambir Palace. During the ceremony, the Royal Dutch flag was substituted with the Flag of Indonesia. Many spectators were in jubilation when the flag took to the sky, and yelled "Merdeka! (Freedom!)". From that moment, Istana Gambir became known as Istana Merdeka.

One day after the ceremony, President Sukarno and his family arrived from Yogyakarta. For the first time, the President of the Republic of Indonesia stayed at Freedom Palace. The first Independence Day annual ceremony was held in the Istana Merdeka in 1950. Since the Dutch Colonial rule, Japanese Invasion and Indonesian Republic fifteen Governor-Generals, three Japanese commanders, and one Indonesian President has taken residence in the Freedom Palace.

Evolution of the Merdeka Palace[edit]

Interior view of the palace in the early 20th century

The architecture of the Merdeka Palace was done in a neo-classical style with doric column, popular amongst Europeans at the time of construction. During the early days, the 3.375 m² building had two stories. In 1848, the upper floor was demolished, and the lower expanded to accommodate more individuals, thus a more formal portrayal. After the 1873 reconstruction, the building has since remain unchanged.

After the Indonesian independence, the Merdeka Palace complex was expanded to include not only Istana Negara (State Palace), but also to construct Wisma Negara, Sekretariat Negara (State Sectreatiat) and Bina Graha. Several colonial buildings and residences were demolished in the Weltevreden area to make way for today's State Palace complex.

In 1961 national monument Monas was built in Merdeka square so that the Freedom Palace would have its facade in view of the newly built monument.

The Merdeka Palace in Present Day[edit]

Aerial View of the Palace Complex
Vladimir Putin meet Yudhoyono in Merdeka Palace during Russia stately visit in 2007

The Merdeka Palace serves as an official venue for state events; such as the Independence Day ceremony, welcoming ceremony of honorable guests, reception of Letters of Credence from foreign ambassadors, installation of ministers, ambassadors, ceremonial opening of national meetings, national and international congress and official state banquet.

The administrative role that the palace once occupied has been shifted to the State Palace building and State Secretariat, while the Merdeka Palace remains a symbolic vestige of authority.

The Merdeka Palace has a several rooms such as, First Chamber, Residential Chamber, Guest Room, Banquet Room, Reception Hall, Regalia Room, Office, Bed Chamber, Living Room, and Kitchen.

The palace parts and rooms[edit]

On the front lawn of Merdeka Palace stands a 17 meters tall flagpole and fountain. The annual flag raising ceremony takes place during Indonesian Independence ceremony every August 17. Also during the Independence ceremony, the verandah at the facade of the palace is often used as ceremonial podium where the president and VIPs sit.

The frontmost room is called Ruang Kredensial (credential room), it is the room where president receives letters of credence from foreign ambassadors stationed in Indonesia. The room is also used for signing the stately letters of cooperation agreements with foreign nations, signed by respective officials and witnessed by each heads of the states. During the independence day ceremony, the president receives compliments from foreign ambassadors.

Ruang Jepara (Jepara room) was a former study room of Sukarno, and named after Jepara, a town in Central Java, because the furniture and ornaments in this room are dominated by wood carving art from Jepara.

Right across Jepara room is Ruang Raden Saleh (Raden Saleh room), named after the famous Indonesian painter Raden Saleh Syarief Boestaman. There are five Raden Saleh's masterpiece paintings in this room.

The largest room is Ruang Resepsi (reception hall), usually used for state banquets, state gala dinners, national meetings, and state cultural performances. In this room there are two masterpiece paintings of Basuki Abdullah. On the eastern wall hangs "Pergiwa Pergiwati" a painting theme from Mahabharata, and on the west wall hangs the Javanese "Jaka Tarub" painting.

The last room is Ruang Bendera Pusaka (the heirloom flag room), or Regalia room, used to store "Bendera Pusaka", the heirloom Indonesian flag that was raised the first time during Indonesian Declaration of Independence in 17 August 1945.

After Sukarno, the following presidents no longer use the palace as the presidential residence, although it is still the official presidential residence. The palace's offices are still in use by the current Indonesian president. During the Suharto administration, Suharto preferred to reside in his own house at Jalan Cendana, Menteng, while the palace and Bina Graha only served as his office. The palace once again became the official presidential residence during the Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati administrations. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono sometimes resides in Merdeka Palace, however just like Suharto, he often prefers to reside in his own house, at Puri Cikeas, Cibubur, south of Jakarta.

See also[edit]

External links[edit]

Coordinates: 6°10′12.60″S 106°49′26.75″E / 6.1701667°S 106.8240972°E / -6.1701667; 106.8240972