Thursday, June 28, 2007

Jakarta Readies for Major Urban Redevelopment

Jakarta was once known as the "Queen of the East" because of its architectural splendor. But, today, the Indonesian capital's old Dutch quarters and once magnificent buildings are crumbling and dilapidated, with little trace of their time of glory when Jakarta was an international trading center.

During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, Jakarta, or Batavia as it was then known, was renowned for its picturesque Dutch colonial houses and tropical tree-lined streets. The city was dotted with grand mansions and country houses with wide verandahs, ideal for the warm climate, while palaces in the Greco-Roman classical style were also common features. Grand colonial-style government offices and Art Deco buildings stood side by side in the Old Town, while other treasures included a 16th century Chinese temple, old mosques and Moorish houses built by the descendants of Arab traders. Today, this polluted and congested metropolis of nine million people, which swells to 14 million if the suburban population is counted, is not exactly a top draw on the tourist map.

But Jakarta may finally be a bit closer to getting the facelift conservationists have been dreaming about. As the city marks its 480th anniversary, conservationists have signed a preliminary pact with the government to revive the Old Town area.

Read more here.

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