Discover The History And Unique Charms of Semarang City, Indonesia

Discover The History And Unique Charms of Semarang City, Indonesia

Java, the most populated island in Indonesia, is most famous for housing the largest Buddhist temple in the world named Borobudur, as well as the exotic volcano of Mount Bromo. Although the size is relatively small compared to other major islands in the country, Java Island is where 60% of the total Indonesian population lives, and also on this island is Indonesia’s capital city of Jakarta. No wonder many people say you won’t see the real Indonesia if you don’t go to Java! The island is divided into 5 different provinces with countless cities, towns, and villages that are interesting to explore. One of them is Semarang, a vibrant modern city full of history and antiquity!

Semarang: one of the biggest cities in Indonesia

discover the history and unique charms of semarang city, indonesia | semarang: one of the biggest cities in indonesia

When you see the map, Semarang is easily noticeable as it’s the capital city of Central Java province, located in the central northern part of Java. Semarang is among the 5 largest cities in Indonesia, and like other big cities, it’s a vibrant place full of entertaining activities and 21st-century amenities. However, surely there are more interesting things to do in the city other than just shopping in malls, watching a film in a cinema, and eating ‘Big Mac’ at McDonald’s!

Witness the history of Semarang

discover the history and unique charms of semarang city, indonesia | witness the history of semarang

Welcome to the district of Kota Lama, which literally means ‘Old Town’. If you love history and architecture, you will definitely fall in love with Kota Lama, which is also called ‘The Little Netherland’. Kota Tua in the Dutch colonial times (19th-20th century) was named ‘Outstadtatau’ (Dutch), and it used to be the center of business and governmental activities. The district covers an area of 31-hectare (76.6 acres) and is now a part of the ‘newer city’ of Semarang. There are so many old buildings with 17th century Dutch architectures, notable from extremely tall windows and vents. Most of these buildings are now empty and have become the property of Semarang’s government. A few still function like in the old times, but most with new local names such as ‘GPIB’ Protestant Church (formerly named ‘Nederlandsche Indische Kerk’) and ‘Tawang’ Train Station.

Have some photo sessions with the Great World Explorer at Sam Poo Kong Temple

discover the history and unique charms of semarang city, indonesia | have some photo sessions with the great world explorer at sam poo kong temple

There are several Chinese temples in Semarang, but you must go to the one named ‘Sam Poo Kong’ (三保洞). Not only is it the largest temple with the most beautiful Chinese architectural buildings in the city, but it has an amazing history too. The history can be traced back 600 years ago when an admiral of the Chinese Ming Dynasty named ‘Zheng He’ (郑和), known as one of the greatest world explorers, and his fleets came to this area and built a temple here. It’s not surprising if you see Zheng He’s replica in the complex of the temple, but the statue in here is 10.7-meters (35.10 ft) tall, which is the biggest in the world! You will regret it if you miss a photo session with the admiral!

Food hunting at Chinatown

discover the history and unique charms of semarang city, indonesia | food hunting at chinatown

Among Indonesians, Semarang is also called ‘Kota Lumpia’, or ‘the city of Chinese egg rolls’ (春卷). Chinese egg rolls? Yes! There is a large overseas Chinese population (华裔) in the city and their culinary traditions have certainly been a part of Semarang for centuries. For the most popular and legendary lumpia in town, you must go to Chinatown and head to ‘Gang Lombok’ (Lombok Alley) Street to find a shop named ‘Lumpia Semarang Gang Lombok’. They sell their lumpia for 12,000 IDR (0.90 USD) for every 2 pieces It’s said to be the first shop selling lumpia in the city, and the egg rolls here are stuffed with shrimp, chicken, and bamboo sprouts; fuller than most other egg rolls in town. This Chinatown is also a food paradise as you can find all kinds of Javanese and particularly Chinese dishes. For pork lovers, eating ‘sate babi’ (pork satay) at Ny. Tien (Mrs. Tien) on ‘Kampung Semawis’ Street is a must; due to its sweet aroma and chewiness!

Join the locals working out on a car-free day

join the locals working out on a car-free day

Simpang Lima is the business center of Semarang with a large city park. Unfortunately, like other business centers in any Indonesian big city, on a regular day, this area is full of cars and motorcycles, making it harder to breathe due to the fumes produced by these vehicles. However, there is a fantastic way to enjoy this area. Every Sunday morning from 6am to 9am there is an occasion named the ‘car-free day’ here, where any fume-producing vehicles aren’t allowed to enter this area. It’s such a nice feeling to be able to walk, jog, and roam in the middle of the streets that are usually jammed with heavy traffic, and where the hustle and bustle from the vehicles is an ordinary thing. You can also try to ride a ‘becak’ or ‘tricycle’ to roam around this area.

Fish at Marina beach

fish at marina beach

Semarang is a coastal city, and surely you wouldn’t believe me if I said there is no beach in Semarang. In fact, there are several beaches in Semarang, and the popular one for tourists is Marina Beach. Although it’s not a white sandy beach, it’s a cool place to view the sunset, go boating, or to do some fishing. If you like to fish, there are a few spots around the beach where you can rent some fishing equipment and buy the bait (shrimp) from one of the fishing rentals here. However, for an ultimate fishing experience, rent a boat that will take you a few kilometers, or miles, off of the northern Java coast for several hours, where fish are plentiful (lots of groupers can be caught here) and the blue Mount Ungaran (close to Semarang) can be spotted from the sea. It costs around 250,000 IDR (18.82 USD) to 700,000 IDR (52.69 USD) for the boat rental and the fishing equipment, depending on how far you want the boat to take you.

Only a-few-hour drive from Borobudur temple

Interested in visiting Semarang? The good news is this city is less than a 3-hour drive from Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple. So if you are planning to visit or happen to be around the temple area, you know that Semarang is the spot you can’t afford to miss!

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He is a traveler, writer, translator and teacher who has written articles on many different topics, specializing in travel,business and tech. He has spent many years in the United States,...Read more

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