BREAKING NEWS

Old town Semarang withstands the test of time


Dozens of ancient buildings — the legacy of the past — in old town Semarang remain as exotic as they were decades ago. With their unique textures and styles, these buildings reflect the grandeur of the past when wealthy foreign merchants from such diverse countries as China, Yemen and the Netherlands came and traded in the capital of Central Java.

These newcomers deliberately constructed the buildings in the once strategic area in Semarang and used them for business purposes due to the proximity to seaports (now known as the Tanjung Mas Seaport). While almost all of these buildings now look deserted, some still serve as important sites for commercial purposes.

One of the oldest buildings still in use today is the theater building, Stadschouwburg, built in 1845. As it is located in Komedieweg, meaning Comedy Street or Jl. Komedi (but now popularly known as Jl. Merak), this building is also known as Gedung Komedi.

Since its inauguration in 1956 by then colonel Soeharto (who would later become president), who at that time served as the commander of Teretorium IV Diponegoro, the building has been rented out for wedding receptions, recreational use, symposiums and meeting purposes.

Other buildings — located across from the Tawang train station and besides the Suara Merdeka (local newspaper) building — were occupied by the Praoe Lajar cigarette factory since the colonial era. Quite surprisingly, Praoe Lajar cigarretes is not a well-known brand among today’s smokers. Praoe Lajar cigarettes increasingly lure low-income consumers, especially those living in remote areas of Central Java, which is why this factory is still operating.
Ground water: A reservoir in front of Tawang railway station accommodates flood water and sea water during high tide, which often inundates the old station. The reservoir used to be a children’s playground.
Ground water: A reservoir in front of Tawang railway station accommodates flood water and sea water during high tide, which often inundates the old station. The reservoir used to be a children’s playground.

Asumbardi, who has been working as a becak (pedicab) driver for 35 years near the Tawang train station, said he had witnessed how part of the station had evolved over the years.

“The station has been renovated over the years to maintain its fresh look while preserving original touches. However, when we compare it to its original appearance, it now looks a bit different,” he said.

Due to the old town’s propinquity to coastlines, it is not surprising that the area is often inundated by the sudden rise of seawater, which causes gradual land subsidence.

Yet, thanks to former Central Semarang mayor Sukawi, floods in the area can be mitigated as in 2008, the local government turned a children’s play ground into a polder or reservoir, which sends the water back to the sea when the area is submerged by seawater.

To keep the polder free from garbage, the Semarang provincial government has formed the so-called “paguyuban polder” (polder community) whose duty is to maintain the polder.

One of the community members, Joko, who is also a becak driver, said that he loved the job because as he was a long-time resident who has been living in this area for 20 years. He felt that maintaining the cleanliness of the city was a responsibility.
Multifunction: Marabunta building is rented out for wedding parties and conferences.
Multifunction: Marabunta building is rented out for wedding parties and conferences.
Merchant form Yemen: The MARBA building (built in the 19th century) continues to stand strong at the corner of the old town. MARBA was extracted from the name Marta Badjunet, a rich merchant from Yemen who ran an expedition business during that period.
Merchant form Yemen: The MARBA building (built in the 19th century) continues to stand strong at the corner of the old town. MARBA was extracted from the name Marta Badjunet, a rich merchant from Yemen who ran an expedition business during that period.
Changed: A heritage building now houses a cigarette factory.
Changed: A heritage building now houses a cigarette factory.
Still beautiful: Semarang’s Tawang railway station, one of the oldest and largest railway stations in the country.
Still beautiful: Semarang’s Tawang railway station, one of the oldest and largest railway stations in the country.
History: A colonial-era building that is now used as an archive and documentation center for local newspaper Suara Merdeka.
History: A colonial-era building that is now used as an archive and documentation center for local newspaper Suara Merdeka.
Source News : http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2013/04/13/old-town-semarang-withstands-test-time.html

— Photos By JP/Setiono Sugiharto

Share artikel ke: Facebook Twitter Google+ Linkedin Technorati Digg