The capital city of Indonesia, Jakarta is a melting point of rich cultural heritage showcasing the vibrant paradigm of traditional and modern architecture. From historically significant Betawi houses to the Golden triangle of Jakarta, the city has flourished over the years, today, having over 88 skyscrapers and home to the fastest CBD in the Asia-Pacific region.

A city with cultural mix, Jakarta is growing to be an architect’s bucket list city. The beautiful landscape of the old city amalgamating with the new, variance in architectural styles is visible and exciting for visitors.

Here are 15 Places to visit in Jakarta for the Travelling Architect:

1. Jakarta Cathedral

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Jakarta Cathedral ©De Cooman
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Jakarta Cathedral ©Palus Liem
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Jakarta Cathedral ©handluggageonly

Since Indonesia has the largest Muslim population in the world, it may seem surprising to find the majestic Neo-Gothic Roman Catholic Cathedral in its heart. From 1901, St. Mary’s Cathedral of the Assumption has been tall just across from the huge Istiqlal Mosque. The building, dedicated to the Virgin Mary, is graciously filled with symbols of adoration, from centuries-old altars to statues and paintings. Many of the cathedral’s materials and objects, including its pipe organ and main altar, were built in a Neo-Gothic style. There are three central spires in the cathedral, one of which houses a museum showing artefacts of Catholic rituals. The Cathedral of Jakarta offers a different view of religion in the country and is a fantastic reminder of the countries Catholic roots.

2. Toko Merah

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Toko Merah ©Rizal Wicaks
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Toko Merah ©Tres Chic
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Toko Merah Interior ©Trisoenoe

An iconic building near the Fatahillah Museum, Toko Merah (Red Shop) is one of the city’s oldest buildings, with its bright red color attracting tourists ‘ attention. The building has a long history of having the most powerful Dutch governors and a local Chinese, giving it its distinctive European-Chinese style to the city. It is considered by some locals to be spiritual and even haunted, adding to the interesting building intrigue.

3. Jakarta Chinatown

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Jakarta Chinatown ©Jakarta Walks
Jakarta Chinatown - Sheet2
Jakarta Chinatown Glodak ©Wikipedia
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Jakarta Chinatown Glodak ©Wikipedia

More commonly known as Glodok by locals, this part of Jakarta is the suburb of Chinatown. Since the 17th century, Jakarta has been populated by Chinese migrants and remains an important part of the city. The Chinatown is based on Pintu Road and features fantastic traditional architecture as well as a variety of food stalls, markets and colorful temples.

Jakarta Chinatown, rich in history and Chinese culture, is often included on tours to the old town area, where one can enjoy a nostalgic walk with hints of far-eastern architecture overwhelming the street scenery. There are several temples from the 17th century that form part of the townscape with dozens of family run shops and restaurants among them.

4. Taman Mini Indonesia Park

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Taman Mini Indonesia Park ©SAIKO3P
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Taman Mini Indonesia Park ©Jakarta Post
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Taman Mini Indonesia Park ©Jakarta Post

Taman Mini Indonesia Indah spans 1.5 square kilometers and is essentially a condensed version of the state, offering an insight into the cultural heritage in the form of traditional house architectural displays, as well as costumes, flora and fauna.

The Archipelago Lake is situated in the center of the park, housing man-made islands in the shape of Indonesia’s own main islands as seen on a map. The anjungan clusters (platforms) are located around the lake, displaying traditional houses representing each province in the state, such as a Minangkabau house from West Sumatra, Toraja’s Tongkonan from South Sulawesi, and traditional Balinese architecture signature carvings.

The Museum Indonesia also houses permanent galleries, a flower garden, a magnificent Chinese shrine, a bird park, numerous theatersshow and an IMAX cinema, one of the very few in Indonesia.

5. Istiqlal Mosque

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Istiqlal Mosque ©Wikipedia
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Istiqlal Mosque ©Wikipedia
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Istiqlal Mosque ©Wikipedia

Jakarta’s Grand Istiqlal Mosque is South East Asia’s largest mosque as it can accommodate congregations of up to 120,000 people.  The building of the rectangular main prayer hall is covered by a 45 m diameter central spherical dome. The latter is supported by twelve round columns and the prayer hall is lined with rectangular piers on each of the four stories carrying overhanging balconies. Set on the corners of the building, staircases provide access to all floors. Access to the hall is through an entrance hall covered by a 10 m diameter chutri-like dome. The latter structure is connected directly to the arcades running around the wide courtyard. The alignment of the courtyard of the mosque with the National Monument gives symbolic weight to the location of the former and marks it as the National Mosque. The mosque also offers social and cultural events in addition to religious services, including: lectures, exhibits, workshops, conferences, bazaars, and programs for women, youth, and children.

6. Wayang Museum

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Wayang Museum ©Abbey T
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Wayang Museum ©Jakarta Travels
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Wayang Museum ©Jakarta Travels

Dedicated to the traditional Wayang of Java’s puppet, this museum presents different kinds and types of wayang from across the country. Tourists can learn and watch the lost art of the country dating back over 1,500 years. Built by the Netherlands in 1640 as a church before being destroyed by an earthquake, repurposed as a study center, and reopened as a museum, the building itself is of historical significance.

7. Jakarta History Museum (Fatahillah Museum)

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Jakarta History Museum ©Abbey T
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Jakarta History Museum ©Abbey T
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Jakarta History Museum ©Abbey T

Constructed as the city hall for the first time by the Dutch colonials, this building reopened in 1974 as a museum, exhibiting historic artifacts found in Jakarta. The neo-classical architecture was influenced by Amsterdam’s Dam Palace. The Museum of Fatahillah is situated in the quaint old town of Jakarta (Kota Tua Jakarta).  On 30 March 1974, the Jakarta History Museum itself was inaugurated as the collection, conservation and research center for all kinds of cultural heritage objects related to Jakarta’s history. There are 37 ornate rooms in the building. There are also some cells under the front portico that were used as dungeons that worked until 1846.

8. National Museum of Indonesia

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National Museum of Indonesia ©handluggagesonly
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National Museum of Indonesia ©Culture Trip
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National Museum of Indonesia ©Culture Trip

Indonesia’s National Museum is located in front of the National Monument. Due to the bronze elephant statue in its forecourt, it is also known as the Elephant Building. During the colonial era, it was first designed by the Dutch and represents some European architectural features with towering pillars. Since then, the Indonesian government has controlled and further expanded the house, including the addition of a new wing. The house also has an inner courtyard in Greek style, which allows for natural light and air. This building, as a museum, houses collections from across the country.

9. Wisma 46

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Wisma 46©Rohani Tanasal
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Wisma 46©Flickr
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Wisma 46©Flickr

The tower was constructed in 1996 and is deemed to be ahead of its time. It has been the highest building in the country for nearly a decade. Located in the business center of Jakarta and surrounded by other skyscrapers, the building still stands out on top of a graceful glass exterior with its iconic fountain pen-shaped antenna. The building houses offices, banks, cafes and cafés, and remains one of the most prominent buildings in Jakarta’s ever-growing skyline.

10. Kineforum

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Kineforum ©Laszlo Csutoras
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Kineforum ©Laszlo Csutoras
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Kineforum ©Laszlo Csutoras

The theater is located in downtown Jakarta, at the foot of the National Monument of Monas, Indonesia. The perimeter of the 38×14 meter frame is draped with a transparent curtain of 6 meters in height to offer the cinema visibility in the large open areas surrounding Monas and to establish the borders of the spaces inside. In addition to the cinema itself, there is also a generous foyer space and a pavilion between the cinema and the foyer in the’ curtain’ façades. There is a ticket counter and a snack bar in the pavilion. The cinema includes a tiered seating area, a professional projection display, electronic projector and surround sound system-all the required ingredients of a state-of – the-art movie theater.

11. Restaurant at Greenville

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Greenville Restaurant ©Dsa+a
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Greenville Restaurant ©Dsa+a
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Greenville Restaurant ©Dsa+a

Essentially, the shape of a restaurant was influenced by an umbrella. The giant roof worked as a shelter, as well as a rain gutter. In the middle of the structure, wrapped by Bamboo, the rainwater is distributed directly to the ground via a pipe. Bamboo is a sturdy product and we can create a great and beautiful frame directly with a minor modification.  Even constructed of bamboo, the roof cover is mounted with a coupling device. The device is used to avoid the leakage of liquid and to stop cracking which usually occurs when bamboo is specifically exposed to the sun.

12. Unilever Headquarters

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Unilever HQ©Owen Raggett
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Unilever HQ©Owen Raggett
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Unilever HQ©Owen Raggett

The building is designed to foster community spirit, collaboration, commitment, and agility with the concept. It has a’ square,” main roads’ and’ streets’ to create a sense of community, referring to the traditional village planning in Indonesia. To order to induce teamwork while preserving anonymity, the scheduling relies on combining group and individual work in areas. In order to encourage interaction and embrace diversity, all community spaces are well connected. Indonesian batik fabrics, recycled teak timber, Indonesian furniture and imagery used across the headquarters create a sense of place. Indoor or outdoor green pockets were formed by the façade indentations. Each of the four wings of the tower is linked by squares where the roof is situated. Outdoor landscaped decks and rooftops are also accessible to admire workers and visitors.  This is a unique headquarters building in Indonesia that incorporates three key elements of Indonesian culture–community, diversity and nature–into the design.

13. The Energy Building

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The Energy Building ©
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The Energy Building ©
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The Energy Building ©

One of the most modern buildings in Indonesia, the Energy Building was designed by noted architect Kohn Pederson Fox. His statement as an intellectual creative workplace is focused on solid foundations, with world-class innovations aimed at creating a more productive working atmosphere. Located in one of the busiest business centres in Jakarta, the building still appears aesthetically pleasing to both those working indoors or admiring from the outside.

14. Cliq Coffee

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Cliq Coffee ©Sefval Mogalana
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Cliq Coffee ©Sefval Mogalana
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Cliq Coffee ©Sefval Mogalana

Located in a dense and cluttered neighborhood in the south of Jakarta, the 200 m2 café consists of two floors, including an indoor and an outdoor dining area. The renovation project takes advantage of the original structure’s small and low ceiling space to create a unique experience of tunneling. Taking time off and having a cup of coffee is a getaway spot. The seating arrangement was built to be effective despite the limited room while retaining the vibrant and lightweight ambience of the area. Selection of arches was implemented in the model as a strategy to deal with narrow and deep space. The arch geometry was borrowed as a unifying element in the building from classical architecture. The line of arches extends all the way to the façade from the interior space. It offers an inside-out view of what is happening. The arch façade gives a strong appearance in the area to the building at the same time.

15. National Monument

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National Monument ©Flickr
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National Monument ©Flickr
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National Monument ©Flickr

This historic building, completed in 1975, is a powerful symbol of the effort and resolve of Indonesia to gain peace and autonomy. The design incorporates the ideology of two of Indonesia’s main rice-making tools, as well as icons of phallus and female organs, to foster balance and harmony between different forces. The lower section of the building houses the National History Museum, from pre-historic to post-independence Indonesia, which displays intricate dioramas of the country’s history. The monument’s higher platform, at 115 meters (377 ft), serves as a viewing deck from which tourists can enjoy Jakarta’s unlimited view. A gold foil in the form of a flame is even higher than the viewing deck.


Paushali Raha is an architect with the writer bug. Her love for history and literature has helped her understand the true amalgamation of storytelling and architecture. Amidst the chaos of varied vocations, she hopes to promote social architecture through practice and words.