The lively, bustling streets of Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia, are home to more than 10 million people residing there. The city has a rich reputation for housing the different ethnic groups and cultures of the Indonesian archipelago.

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Jakarta Skyline_©Warren Goldswain/

Although disturbed by the tropical heat, pollution and frequent floods, the Indonesian capital remains a fantastic place worth visiting. It boasts fabulous shopping malls, varying restaurants, multiple business opportunities, and a higher standard of living than the other Indonesian regions.

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Jakarta_ ©Muhammad Fadli/

The predominant religion in Jakarta is Islam followed by Christianity. There are also Buddhist, Hindu, and Confucianist populations. These diverse occupants along with their respective traditions have collectively inspired all walks of life in Jakarta. The architectural style corresponds to the country’s colonial past, religions, and prevailing climate. 

There are several mosques, churches, and temples in Jakarta. 

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IstiqlalMosque_©Tourism Portrait

Istiqlal Mosque is the most popular and happens to be the largest mosque in Southeast Asia. It was named “Istiqlal”, the Arabic word for “independence” to commemorate Indonesian independence. 

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Jakarta Cathedral_©

The Jakarta Cathedral is a Roman Catholic cathedral and the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Jakarta. It is right across the Istiqlal mosque and is an example of Neo-Gothic Architecture in Jakarta

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Kim Tek Le Temple_©Gunawan Kartapranata

Kim Tek Le completed in 1650 is the oldest Buddhist and Taoist temple in the province. Its name was later translated into Bahasa Indonesia and is now known as the Vihara Dharma Bhakti.

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Aditya Jaya Pura Rawamangun Temple_©

Aditya Jaya Hindu temple in Rawamangun in East Jakarta is one of the many Hindu temples in the city. Its architectural style is similar to that of Balinese temples.

These religious monuments prove to be a testimony of the peace and harmony between the folk in the city.

The architecture is inspired by local Javanese, Arab, French, Chinese, Malay, and Dutch influences. Owing to the country’s history as a Dutch Colony, the city’s architecture underwent many significant changes during the time. Several existing structures underwent renovations.

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Dutch Colony Batavia_©Arnoldus Montanus

Kota Tua in Jakarta is a neighborhood that showcases the remnants of an establishment built by the Dutch. Kota Tua was formerly known as Batavia, the capital of the Dutch East Indies. 

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The Fatahillah Museum in Kota Tua_©

Colonies such as these were connected to Amsterdam through canals, utilized by foreign powers for transportation and trade. Currently, there are still quite a few historical buildings in Jakarta from the times of Batavia. The Fatahillah Museum in Jakarta is an example of pure Dutch architecture.

Despite their oppressive rule, the Dutch had progressive and evolutionary methods of planning their cities. Though they initially followed European styles of planning, they soon adapted their style to suit the hot and humid climate of Indonesia. 

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Javanese Vernacular Architecture_©

The local Javanese people had learned to combat the harsh climate by utilizing structures such as overhanging roofs for protection from rainwater and leaving plenty of airspace inside the rooms to maintain a steady flow of wind in their homes. 

The Jonglo style of rooftops was reserved for nobles and officials to act as a symbol for displaying prestige and power in society. They served as a method to prevent the culmination of water on the roofs and to mediate the temperature of the house.

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The National Archives Building_©

The Dutch slowly started incorporating the local designs in their structures. The National Archives Building which is now a museum in Jakarta was a private residence built for Governor-General Reinier de Klerk in the 18th century. It is an early example of the Dutch and Javanese fusion of architecture as it holds an overhanging roof yet is dominantly a Dutch building.

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The Landhuis Cililitan_©

The Indies Style of Architecture rose greatly in the middle of the 18th century and was followed until the end of the 19th century. The Landhuis Cililitan is one of few standing structures that were built following the New Indies Style. It has a grand, well-defined Jonglo roof, and large windows for proper ventilation, but is also of two stories giving a nod to its Dutch ancestry. This style was the epitome of early western architecture integrating regional designs. The wide eaves, supporting pillars, and protected verandas also increase the number of people that could be housed in such structures.

As French architecture became popular across the European countries during the 19th century, the Indies Empire Style was introduced, which was an adapted imitation of the neoclassical Empire Style of architecture. The Style was characterized by the shift from stone columns to wooden or narrow iron columns as a response to the growing need for space in city centers, and the introduction of corrugated steel blades supported by cast-iron consoles to windows and verandas for minimizing the effects of the monsoon climate. 

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The Textile Museum of Jakarta_©

The Textile Museum of Jakarta, a former 19th-century mansion exhibits the Indies Empire Style brilliantly. The building draws its roots from the neo-classical system but takes inspiration from the traditional Javanese architecture just as well.

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National Museum_©saiko3p/shutterstock
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National Monument_©

Although Jakarta is often overlooked by tourists, the city harbors countless beautiful and extravagant structures. Buildings such as the National Museum of Indonesia and the National Monument provide great historical significance to the country and are extraordinary works of art. 

Despite its self-sustaining style of architecture, there are also several establishments such as the Metropole XXI designed with influences of Art Deco. Modern skyscrapers in Jakarta’s business center such as the Wisma 46, and the Energy Building are also very popular among its people for their brilliant designs as innovative and intelligent workspaces.

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Metropole XXI_©Voslerrr/deviantart
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The architecture of Jakarta has thus evolved, to grow accustomed to the significant aspects of society. The city may not have a glorious appeal to it on the surface, but diving into its heart is sure to leave anyone surprised!


"Hasiba is an incessantly curious, student of architecture. She is perpetually fascinated by people, their stories and their experiences with built forms. Her hopes for the future are adamantly idealistic as she hopes to improve the lives of as many as possible with conscious and pragmatic design."