A 137 metre (450 foot) marble obelisk set in the centre of Fredom Square (Medan Merdeka). The monument is surmounted by an observation deck and a 14 metre (45 foot) bronze flame sheathed in 33 kg (73 lbs) of gold. It was commisioned by Soekarno and complete 1961 – a combination Olympic Flame / Washinton Monument with the phallic overtones of an ancient Hindu – Javanese lingga. In the basement is a series of dioramas depicting historical scenes from a nationalistic view point. A high speed elevator shoots you to the observation deck. (open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily).
From Monas, travel north along Jl. Gajah Mada to the splendid villa that now houses the National Archives. This is the last out of scores of 18th century mansions built by rich Dutch officials of the East India Company. Unfortunately, special permision is needed to tour the building, but even from the street the beautiful wood work and amnicured gardens that were once the hallmark of Batavia are visible.
Double back to Medan Merdeka and pass behind the Presidential Palace. situation between Jl. Medan Merdeka Utara and Jl. Veteran. The palace building consists of two 19th century neo classical style villas back to back. The older of the two, the Istana Negara, faces north and was built by a wealthy Dutch by a wealthy Dutch merchant around 1800. It was taken over some years later to serve as the town residence was then located in bogor). The southern facing Istana Merdeka was added in 1879, as a reception area. Whereas President Soekarno resided in the palace and frequently gave banquets in central coutryard, President Soeharto prefers to stay in his more modest home in the Menteng area and commutes to work.
Proceeding eastward, one encounters the imposing white marble Istiqlal Mosque with its massive dome and rakish minarets – said to be the largest mosque in East Asia. Opposite it are the ultra modern headquarters of Pertamina, the state oil monopoly that supplies a tenth of OPEC’s oil and well over half of the state’s revenue.
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