The quaint old district of Kota was known as Batavia when it was the administrative centre of the Dutch trading empire. To reach Kota, either take the Trans Jakarta from Sarinah or catch the local red-and-yellow bus, both of which end up in front of Kota train station. North from Kota station along Jalan Lada, past the Politeknik Swadharma, you enter what was once the walled city of Batavia, whose centre, Taman Fatahillah, an attractive cobbled square hemmed in by museums, lies 300m to the north of the train station. On the south side, the Jakarta History Museum covers the history of the city from the Stone Age. Most displays have descriptions in English. The finest exhibit is the ornate Cannon Si Jagur, which previously stood in the square and was built by the Portuguese to defend Melaka. The whole thing is emblazoned with sexual imagery, from the clenched fist (a suggestive gesture in Southeast Asia) to the barrel itself, a potent phallic symbol in Indonesia.

The largely disappointing Wayang Museum, to the west of the square, is dedicated to the Javanese art of puppetry and housed in one of the oldest buildings in the city. Puppets from right across the archipelago are displayed, and on most Sundays there is a free wayang show (between 10am & 2pm). While in the area, don’t miss the chance to luxuriate in the stylish surroundings of the historic Café Batavia, on the northwestern corner of Taman Fatahillah. To the east of the square, the Balai Seni Rupa, Jakarta’s fine arts museum, and the Ceramics Museum house works by Indonesia’s most illustrious artists.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Indonesia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

Bali travel tips: 10 things to know before you go

Bali travel tips: 10 things to know before you go

With its coral-speckled beaches, luscious green rice terraces and blissful azure seas, Bali has long been a haven for surfers, sun worshippers and yoga junkies …

21 Sep 2016 • Henry Fry insert_drive_file Article
Discover Indonesia: our film of the week

Discover Indonesia: our film of the week

Searching for that daily dose of travel inspiration? Look no further, but don’t be surprised if your feet start to itch for Indonesia. This archipelago nat…

16 Dec 2015 • Colt St. George videocam Video
The other Bali: an alternative guide to the Island of Gods

The other Bali: an alternative guide to the Island of Gods

Beyond the mystical sounds of gamelan and the intricate craft of batik, Bali boasts a world of subcultures often overlooked by visitors. The art makes bold stat…

20 Nov 2015 • Colt St. George insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month