Semarang: The Harmony of Multiethnic City in Central Java

Semarang is one of the metropolitan cities in Indonesia. The fifth largest city in Indonesia, the capital of the province of Central Java, is located in the northern part of the province. In the midst of technological and economic progress, the city has managed to maintain its culture. The balance between Javanese, Chinese, Dutch and Arabic cultures can be felt in this city.

This unique cultural harmonization rises through the foundations of the city. Located within the entire Java Sea, Semarang has become one of the trading centers in Java. The port of Semarang is located between two major Java ports, namely the Sunda Kelapa (Jakarta) port from the west, and the Surabaya port to the east. Its location made it a popular transit point for ships traveling to these larger vents, leading to a mix of cultures and ethnicities in East Asia and Europe.

Ethnic diversity can be easily seen from the structure of buildings in certain areas; Kauman is influenced by Islamic civilization, Chinatown exhibits evidence of the growing Chinese community in Semarang before the Dutch came to Indonesia, and Kota Tua provides glimpses of European civilization. Blenduk Church, a Protestant church built by the Dutch in 1753, is now a milestone in the history of the Kota Tua area which was once a European cultural and commercial area.

Now, Semarang is also a stop for foreign cruise ships that come to the port of Tanjung Emas. Cruise ship visitors can go to various tourist destinations in and around Semarang and Central Java, such as the famous Borobudur and Prambanan Temples.

Along with the historic holiday season, Semarang also has a more contemporary appeal, especially for people who like to hang out at night, because this city never sleeps. Simpang Lima (five-way junction) in the heart of the city is one of the biggest destinations at night. This area is filled with various food vendors that can be accessed from afternoon to early morning.

Semarang Attractions

There are many interesting things that you can find in Semarang. These places then become favorite tourist destinations that are always crowded with tourists. Here are some places that must be visited while on vacation to Semarang:

  • Old City/ Kota Tua

The Old Town (Oudstad) of Semarang is nicknamed “Little Holland” because of the many buildings with a touch of colonial style. The most famous is the Blenduk Church (Blenduk Church) which was built in 1753. Even the historic buildings of Kota Tua include those used today as offices, houses, hospitals, current markets, colleges and places of worship.

  • Lawang Sewu

The Lawang Sewu building which is called the “million door construction” is a very popular landmark building in Semarang. Built from 1904 to 1919, this building was used as the head office of the Dutch East Indies Railway Company (Nederlandsch Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij) until the period of 1942. Now, Lawang Sewu attracts an average of 1,000 visitors per day. This construction is also sometimes used for exhibitions and ceremonial events.

  • Kreo Cave

Nestled in the mountains and valley of the Kreo River, Kreo Cave is a jungle place in Semarang. Kreo Cave (Kreo Cave) is considered a legacy of Sunan Kalijaga (among the “nine guardians” of Islam in Java). Visitors will be spoiled with beautiful natural scenery such as rice fields, towering cliffs, and clear water, as well as seeing wild monkeys. The Kreo cave is in the middle of the Jatibarang reservoir which is connected to a bridge.

  • Sam Poo Kong Temple

Sam Poo Kong, also known as Gedung Batu Temple, is the oldest temple in Semarang. Built by Muslim explorer Admiral Zeng He (Cheng Ho), the Sam Poo Kong temple complex contains five temples with a combined Chinese and Javanese architectural design. After the renovation of the house in 2002 to 2005, this temple is currently one of the largest in Southeast Asia.

Before you plan a trip to Semarang, be sure to read more about Semarang and Indonesia by visiting Wonderful Indonesia.