Bang! Crash! Flash!
The wet season has definitely arrived in The Big Durian. So what does this mean for getting Out and About in Jakarta? Months of hibernation is not an option; instead you need to muster up extra motivation, get adventurous and prepare to explore!
Today we take you to two places that work well for a ‘wet day calendar’. These two places are a must visit for anyone new in Jakarta – and even if you’ve been here a while, they are definitely worth a re-visit. In today’s post we visit Istiqlal, the Grand Mosque of Jakarta and also Jakarta’s ‘Santa Maria Pelindung Diangkat Ke Surga’ which is better known as Katedral Jakarta.
(Ps: Be sure to read right to the bottom of today’s post as we also provide you with our, ‘ajb’s advice for surviving the Wet Season in Jakarta’)
About Istiqlal – Jakarta’s Grand Mosque
Jakarta’s Grand Mosque was named Istiqlal (‘freedom’), to honour the autonomy of Indonesia. Inaugurated in 1978, Istiqlal Mosque took 17 years to construct under the supervision of first President of Indonesia, Sukarno. Interestingly Istiqlal was designed in 1954 by Frederich Silaban, a Christian architect from North Sumatra. Silaban’s design was the winning entry in a competition which short-listed 7 final designs.
Consisting of 4 levels, Istiqlal is predominantly made of marble with aluminium detailing and is able to accommodate a congregation of up to 200,000 people, making it South East Asia’s largest mosque. Its impressive dome spans a diameter of 45 metres.
Visiting Istiqlal Mosque
Istiqlal is welcoming to non-Muslim visitors. Prior to entering the Mosque, visitors need to adhere to obvious religious expectations including removal of ones’ footwear and the wearing of appropriate attire (see advice below).
Non-Muslim visitors must also be accompanied by a guide, as not all areas are accessible, including the Main Hall area. To view this area, visitors must ascend to the second floor balcony. You can acquire a local guide at the front of the Mosque, or better still, you can use our friendly and informative guide Ibu Maria (meet Maria and find her details below!)
Tips when visiting Istiqlal
Dress modestly – this includes wearing clothing that covers shoulders and legs. Strappy tops are not acceptable (we wore light, long sleeve cotton shirts and 3/4 length trousers)
Pack an extra scarf just in case
Pack socks in a sealed plastic bag (as shoes must be taken off before entering the Mosque). Put back in plastic bag afterwards
Take a water bottle
Take your camera (but avoid flash photography)
Have money ready for a donation (rp50,000 for an individual or rp100,000 for a group donation)
Ideally organise for an experienced guide to take you (see below for Ibu Maria’s details – our Guide recommendation)
Allow 1.5 – 2 hours to fully experience Istiqlal
When to Visit Istiqlal
As I mentioned earlier, I have now visited Istiqlal on numerous occasions: once on the weekend, a mid-week visit and most recently for Friday prayers (known as Jum’atan, Jum’ah or Jumuah depending upon where you are in the Muslim world). Each was a different experience – but if you only have time for a one-off visit, I would definitely recommend visiting on a Friday.
If visiting on a Friday, it is best to meet your guide at 11am. This will allow you time to view the upper levels of Istiqlal, observe the men as they fulfil the pre- prayer washing ritual (note: it is not considered impolite or disrespectful to view this process), and finally take your place on the second tier balcony for your birds-eye view of Jum’atan. It is a most memorable and moving experience.
Istiqlal Mosque, Jakarta
Jl. Taman Wijaya Kusuma
Sawah Besar, Kota Jakarta Pusat
Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta
Next stop…. Katedral Jakarta
About Katedral Jakarta
Katedral Jakarta is a Roman Catholic Cathedral in Central Jakarta and is also the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jakarta. Officially known as Gereja Santa Perawan Maria Diangkat Ke Surga (The Church of Our Lady of Assumption), Katedral Jakarta is located near Merdeka Square and Merdeka Place, directly opposite Istiqlal Mosque.
Inaugurated and blessed in November 1829, the Cathedral was then renovated in 1859 but collapsed in April 1890.
As it stands today, this Neo-Gothic Cathedral was designed by Pastor Antonius Dijkmans, SJ and was built between 1891 – 1901. It is made from bricks covered with plaster. Its roof is made from teak wood and the three spires are made from iron. Katedral Jakarta was consecrated in 1901 and has since been renovated twice: in 1988 and 2002.
Tips when visiting Katedral Jakarta
Take a guide. This will maximise your experience.
Allow 45 minutes – 1 hour to explore the Cathedral and the surrounding gardens, including the reflective garden that is modelled on Lourdes, France.
When to visit Katedral Jakarta
The is no ‘wrong’ time to visit Katedral Jakarta. If you want some reflective time, then it is best to visit during the week when the Church is at its most quiet.
The first time I visited the Katedral was on a Sunday. It was lovely as we arrived for the final part of Mass. Although it was delivered in Bahasa Indonesia, it was warming to hear the prayers and hymns and see the congregation come together; a congregation so large that the seating spilled out into the adjacent gardens with a screen provided for viewing the proceedings inside.
During our most recent visit (on a Friday), we arrived just as a wedding had concluded and preparations for another were well underway. Visitors were starting to arrive as we departed. The excitement was palpable. We had to restrain ourselves from assisting with the hasty preparations!
Jakarta Catholic Cathedral (Katedral Jakarta)
Jl. Katedral No.7B, Ps. Baru
Sawah Besar, Kota Jakarta Pusat
Daerah Khusus Ibukota Jakarta 1
Web: Katedral Jakarta
With Christmas just around the corner, perhaps you are interested in attending a service during Advent, or any other time. For details, check out: http://www.expat.or.id/orgs/religiousservices.html
* Kenalkan Ibu Maria Gusliantine ZK – Tour Guide Extraordinaire
Where were you born?
I was born in South Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Can you tell us a bit about your study and background?
I majored in Tourism and my academic title is Master Degree in Tourism. I am single and looking hehehehe…!!! I became a legal Indonesian Tour Guide in 2000 and I have been an Indonesian Tour Leader since 2006, whereby I accompany Indonesian citizens on their overseas travel.
How did you come to be a tour guide?
It started when I was 12 years old.. One Sunday afternoon we met 2 foreigners that seemed misguided or lost. All of my street soccer friends said that I should go and talk to them. My friends gave me support because they knew I was learning English in my Elementary school so my friends said you are the only one that can speak to them. I tried to talk to them and give them directions to Kota Tua and they seemed to understand me . Since that time I always try to practise my English with foreigners that I met in Gambir area, Kota Tua or Jalan Jaksa as well as the Sarinah area. From that moment I knew what I wanted to be someday..
Where is your favourite part of Jakarta? And why?
It is the Old Town part of Batavia, there’s lot of hidden stories in the Old Part of Jakarta and more stories to explore because Old part of Jakarta is unique in its own way. Central Jakarta has a more modern ambience. and South Jakarta is fun with its mix of culture and diversity.
Favourite part of Indonesia? And why?
Central Borneo AKA Kalimantan Tengah as it has unique forests and lots of things to explore including the culture, the river and Orang Utan Conservation. Komodo Island is also a favourite with beautiful beaches and the only place where the Komodo Dragon lives. Sulawesi AKA Celebes is extremely interesting with its unique culture, animals and its people. And East Indonesia .. Ambon, Saparua, Nusa Laoet, Banda and Papua .. one word Beautiful.
What are your favourite 3 places to visit anywhere in the World?
Amsterdam, Prague and Cappadocia, Turkey.
Favourite place to eat in Jakarta
Glodok and Mangga Besar areas in Jakarta Barat. Blok M area in South Jakarta.
What street-style food must every visitor to Jakarta try?
Everyone should try Sate Ayam (chicken satay) from Jl. Sambas in South Jakarta. I also love Soto Ayam from the Sarinah area as well as Yogyakarta Street Food in Blok M Square.
Coffee or tea?
Favourite place in Jakarta to sip coffee/tea?
Bakoel Koffie and TakKie in Glodok area for original taste. I only drink black coffee or ice milk coffee
Top 5 things to do/places to explore in greater Jakarta
Glodok Area, Old Town of Batavia, Menteng Area, Monas Area and South parts of Jakarta.
What are your ‘travel essentials?’ (Eg: things you always take with you when you travel).
My Sauce Sambal hehehehe…!
When you’re not travelling, what do you like to do?
I enjoy resting in my house, reading, watching movies, cooking and teaching.
Contact Ibu Maria
+62 813 1087 3474
+62 813 8693 3397
ajb’s advice for surviving the Wet Season in Jakarta
To maximise the chances of a successful adventure, you will need to time your trips for the earlier part of the day – and return home by mid-afternoon if you can (as this is when most of the storm activity begins).
Pick places to visit that are mostly under cover and are easy to access. If possible, avoid places that are prone to flooding as you may find yourself stuck!
Ensure you have a Plan B route to take incase your intended route becomes obstructed. Your driver will need to think ahead to prepare for this.
Readjust your expectations as to what you can fit in your day. Achieving one ‘task’ or ‘experience’ per day is indeed a ‘success’ – more than this warrants a celebration!
Pack ‘supplies’ in the car including snacks and water incase you get stuck in traffic. Throw in a towel, a light blanket (incase you’re cold with the AC in the car) and a book to read too.
* Kenalkan: let me introduce..
Words: Jo Stevens Photography: a journey bespoke (or as per photo)