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The Old Town of Jakarta (Formerly old Batavia) and 4 Outlying Islands (Onrust, Kelor, Cipir dan Bidadari)

Date de soumission : 30/01/2015
Critères: (ii)(iii)(iv)(v)
Catégorie : Culturel
Soumis par :
Permanent Delegation of the Republic of Indonesia to UNESCO
État, province ou région :
Jakarta, DKI Jakarta
Coordonnées S6 08 05 E106 48 48
Ref.: 6010

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Located at the mouth of the Ciliwung River in Java , the Old Town of Jakarta was established by the VOC in 1619. Its 17th century town plan was completed in 1650. In 17th and 18th century VOC had largest volume of trade in the world, governed  from  Batavia.  No  colonial  town  built  by  VOC  matched  the  grandeur and  completeness  (military,  civil engineering, and urban elements) of Dutch town planning & architecture of Batavia. 

The nominated property: the 1650 town (1.5 km x 1 km) with 4 major areas on the Ciliwung River sides. West side: former Jayakarta and two 18th century houses. North west side: West Warehouse, old town wall remains, Floating Warehouse, VOC shipyard,  Luar Batang Mosque. East side: East Warehouse, Town Square, Town Hall. South east side: China Town. Kalibesar Canal with traditional boats wharf. Islands: Onrust, Kelor, Cipir & Bidadari with shipyard and forts.

Justification de la Valeur Universelle Exceptionnelle

The nominated property is considered to be of Outstanding  Universal Value as a cultural property for the following reasons.

As an excellent example of Dutch colonial city town planning and architecture  during the 17th-18th  century which were the golden age of the VOC. 

As the most complete surviving Dutch Colonial Capital City located at the centre of the web of the vast Dutch trading  network  in 17th-18th  Century.  The spice  trade  route  from the Netherlands  to the Middle  East, the Indian Subcontinent, China, Japan, South Africa and the Spice Islands produced in Batavia, a city with multicultural heritages alive till today and which influenced the creation of an Indonesian culture reflecting all of these.

As a living testimony to the multi cultural heritage and traditions of Asia. Where European, Chinese, Arabian, and Indian cultures met with local cultures and created unique mixture of Peranakan cultures.

As an example of sea use which reflects a unique maritime culture preserved until now in the traditional boat wharf of Jakarta Old Town where venacular boats come from all over Indonesia until now bringing trade commodities.  The wharf is one of the most important harbours for traditional craft which would suffer a big setback without it.

Criterion (ii): This criterion is justified on the grounds that the Old Town of Jakarta represents the most exceptional example of “Dutch Colonial City” town planning during the 17th  and 18th  century period of the VOC when Batavia was the town with the largest volume of trade in Asia. It is most likely that the town planners of Batavia were influenced  by the ideals of Simon Stevins “ideal city” of the 17th  century as were many of the other VOC colonial towns of the period. Based  on  (1) Spatial/functional.   (2) Institutional  and  (3)  Centrally  located-  Batavia  stand  out  among  other  Dutch Colonial Cities and Settlements. The town is divided into a selection of grids created by the canals built to make transportation easier and the buildings were built in the blocks created by these grids. Batavia was established by the Governor  General  of the VOC, thereby  providing  an institutional  framework  for the town. The city also contained large built structures from each of the following three categories: military (forts, redoubts, city walls), civil engineering (canals, sluices, dikes, bridges) and urban street design (including a public space that takes the common good into account).

Criterion (iii): As  the  centre  of  a  network  of  European  and  Asian,  Intra-Asian  and  inter  islands  trade  in  Indonesia,  Batavia developed  unique  cross  cultural traditions  such  as:  Maardijker  culture,  Indies  culture  (Eurasian)  and  Chinese Peranakan  culture.  This  tangible  and  intangible  heritage  is  visible  in  the various  different  religious  buildings,  in European, Chinese and local Indonesian architectural styles and techniques, in Indian, Dutch and Chinese influences on furniture and on cuisine – mixing with local styles and tastes. It is also seen in music such as Tanjidor (European) and Keroncong (Portuguese fado).

The 17th and 18th century also saw an intermingling of many local peoples from all over the Indonesian Archipelago, bringing with them their own differing cultures, beliefs and traditions who settled in Batavia as reflected in the many quarters  still  bearing  local  ethnic  names.  This  intermingling  on  an unprecedented  scale  in  Indonesian  history provided the living example for the creation of an Indonesian  state out of the many islands, languages and beliefs and  more  importantly  the  creation  of  an  Indonesian  culture  which  not  only  reflects  the  many  traditions  of  the Archipelago  but also all the major cultural traditions in the world namely: Western culture, Chinese culture, Indian culture and Middle Eastern culture. Such a culture has a very important role to play in the civilizations.

Criterion (iv): This criterion  is justified  on the grounds  of the unprecedented  amount  of trade that the VOC created  and which ushered in a significant stage in human history namely the Golden Age of Trade of the VOC which was reflected in Batavia as the headquarters of the VOC in Asia in:

a. The multi-layer grid of canals built by the Dutch created not only to dry the swamplands around Batavia but also  to  provide  transport  for  commodities  coming  from  the  hinterlands  behind  Batavia  and  arriving  and leaving by ship which made trade far more efficient and made supplying the inhabitants of Batavia far easier.

b. The VOC architecture and technology of building warehouses was the best of its time and also made trade more efficient. This was used in other VOC towns around the world and influenced those parts of the world in building warehouses.

c. The town planners of Batavia were very likely inspired by the spirit of Simon Stevin’s ideal city which was in vogue in Holland.  A grid pattern of canals was created  with blocks in which buildings  were built with the required elements of government, military and urban landscape: houses and buildings of various faiths. All created due to trade.

d. Batavia  and  Onrust  also  recorded  the  technological  ensemble  which  is very  unique  to that  period  (e.g.Windmill and watermill from Dutch).

Criterion (v): At the mouth of the river of the Old Town of Jakarta, there exists a wharf specifically for traditional/vernacular  sailing boats from various parts of the Archipelago. Indonesia has the largest fleet of merchant sailing boats in the world and the boats of the various islands show different characteristics.  This port for vernacular sailing boats is evidence of a unique maritime culture still in existence till today. It is an inter-island port. In the past Batavia was the most important port in Asia for inter-island, Inter-Asia and the Asia-Europe  trading route. Today it is still one of the most important ports for inter-island  traditional vernacular  boats.  These  boats  are an outstanding  example  of traditional  sea-use which is representative  of a culture or human interaction with the environment which has become vulnerable under the impact of the development of modern shipping technology.

Déclarations d’authenticité et/ou d’intégrité

The Old Town of Jakarta retains its authenticity in its present state. As the centre point of the world trade route of its in the 17th  and 18th  century Batavia has been extensively painted and written about. The original city plan, drawings and research related to its design and buildings are still in existence.  The development  of the city in 1619, 1622,1627, 1632, 1635, 1650 and 1667 can still be compared with its current state now in exacting detail.

Based upon the series of documentation  and numerous later studies covering 400 years of Old Town of Jakarta’s lifespan, it is possible to conclude that the city plan as it appears today still retains many elements of its original town plan.

Simon Stevin designed a plan for future settlement based on his concept of the ‘ideal city’. Batavia was most likely inspired by the spirit of his ideal city which was used for other VOC towns.   His concept of the built rectangular, walled  town,  was  here  bisected  by  the  Ciliwung  or  Kalibesar  River  which  was
designed  into  a  straight  canal. Accordance  to Stevin’s  concept the most important  part of the city would have been the fort, symbolizing  power, while the town hall, markets, and other public buildings were distributed in the blocks created by the grid pattern of canals.

Authenticity of Town Planning by the Dutch

The Old Town of Jakarta is a good example of town planning by the Dutch in the VOC era. Access into the town built at the mouth of the Ciliwung River was via the big canal/river. The Old Town of Jakarta has kept the same style and shape as when it was built by the VOC. It still has a square shape of 1km x 1.5 km. with the Ciliwung as the centre of the city, separating it into east and west. The Dutch remains in the eastern area are important government buildings such as the Town Hall (Stadhuis) and Outer Portuguese  Church. In west they are Governor General Van Imhoff’s house (Toko Merah), Radermacher’s House, VOC Shipyard for small vessels, the Floating Warehouse, the West Warehouse  and remains of the city wall (Maritime Museum), remains of bastion, and Lookout Tower (Syahbandar Tower). The Old Town of Jakarta was built with canals forming a multi grid where the Dutch could measure the land, count the density, and arrange the building in an effective way. The town planning by the VOC separated the main town and the suburban. The main town here is the Old Town of Jakarta Area, and the suburbs are the Glodok or China town area.

Authenticity of Cultural Tradition

With its trade from all over the Archipelago and the world the Old Town of Jakarta became a melting pot of the many cultures and traditions  of the various peoples who lived in Jakarta. This rich infusion created many cross cultural traditions  and hybrid  or peranakan  cultures  containing  local  and foreign  cultural  elements.  A mixing  of Chinese, Dutch,  Portuguese,  Indian  and  Arabic  traditions  with  the  many  local  cultural  traditions  of  Indonesia  occurred. Evidence in cuisine can be seen in the Rijstaffel style (Dutch influence), nasi kebuli (Arabic influence) etc (see list). It is also  evidenced  in the many  foreign  loan  words  in the Indonesian  language  (see  lists),  in the music  such  as keroncong  music  (same  roots  as  Portuguese  fado)  tanjidor  (Dutch  influence)  Gambang  Kromong  (combining Javanese Gamelan with traditional Chinese musical instruments (see lists), rites of passage ceremonies (see list), costumes, furniture, architectural styles (see lists).

Authenticity of Canal System, Warehouses and Heritage Buildings

The Golden  Age  of Trade  created  by the VOC  as a significant  stage  of human  history  brought  changes  to the landscape of the Old Town of Jakarta as seen in the canal system, warehouses and buildings. The largest canal or Kalibesar and some lesser canals still remain. Three of the VOC warehouses  still stand. Beside that 17th  and 18th century heritage buildings also still stand in their original design.   Typical features include high sash windows with split shutters,  gable roofs, and white-coral  painted  wall were adjusted  to the climate  with allowing  air circulation. Some of the 17th and 18th century buildings are:

1. Government   buildings:  Town  Hall  Building,  Floating  Warehouse,   East  Warehouse,   West  Warehouse, shipyards in Old Town and on islands
2. Defence Buildings:  foundations  of forts (also on islands),remains  of old town wall and bastion, remains of redoubt
3. Public Works: Canals, sluices, drawbridge,
4. Private  Houses:  Governor  General  Van  Imhoff’s  house,  Radermacher’s  house,  smaller  Chinese  and  /or Dutch houses.

5. Religious  buildings  and  graves:  Jin  De  Yuan  Chinese  Temple,  Luar  Batang  Mosque,  Outer  Portuguese Church, Lupon Temple for furniture makers.

 Beside this there are still many very fine 19th and early 20th century buildings (Art Deco) also preserved.

Authenticity of Cultural Maritime

There is still an authentic form of Maritime Culture in the Old Town of Jakarta in the form of the traditional vernacular boats (see list of types of boats) which dock and trade along the wharf of the Kalibesar Canal for traditional craft. Old maps and books show that since the 17th  century  these boats come and go trading  with many local and foreign people. Now the boats still come and trade in rice, clothes, spices, and other trade items from around the Indonesia Archipelago.



This  nominated  site  includes  within  its  proposed  boundary  all  elements  necessary  to  express  its  Outstanding Universal Values. With its many historical aspects, the Old Town of Jakarta contains all the aspects that show the importance  of each value. The most important value in Old Town of Jakarta lies in its town planning with its very Dutch colonial characteristics  from that period, the canal system, the buildings  built for specific functions  such as trading (warehouses,  the  Lookout  Tower,  trading  offices  and  drawbridge),  the  government  building  (Town  Hall), houses of worship (Luar Batang Mosque, Langgar Tinggi Mosque, Annawier Mosque, Jin De Yuan Chinese Temple, Lupon Temple and Outer Portuguese Church), and other building – mostly private houses such as Toko Merah (Ex. Baron Van Imhoff’s house). Old Town Jakarta also contains important intangible things, such as Peranakan Culture which is manifested in language, cuisine, furniture, architecture, rites of passage, costumes and music which are still alive in the Old Town of Jakarta. Maritime Culture in the Old Town Jakarta is to be seen by the trading that goes on with the traditional ships along the traditional sailing boats wharf along the Kalibesar canal since 1617.


The Old Town of Jakarta still has exactly the same town planning as the town the VOC built 1650. It is still located at the mouth of the Ciliwung River which runs through the middle of town, straightened  into the Kalibesar canal. The multi-layered  grid of canals creating blocks where the building were built has not changed. Of the 16 canals some have now been covered with streets but the location of the new streets is exactly where the canals were before. Of the old town walls and bastions very little remains and only the foundations of the fort are still there. The river around the city, still exists marking the outer line of Old Town of Jakarta. The four outlying islands (Onrust, Bidadari, Cipir and Kelor still retains some ruins and foundation of the original structure and layout.

Many old 17th and 18th century buildings and structures remain (see inventory list) even though some of them are in a neglected  condition  or not used for their original purpose.  There are also many 19th  and 20th  century trading and finance buildings (see inventory list). Many decayed and collapsed but we can still see their magnificent architecture: their original facades, stained glass windows and tiles.

These are all now protected by law and attempts are made to preserve and restore them.


The biggest threat the Old Town of Jakarta faces is the development of the city. The development of the Railway on the north side of the Old Town, the Freeway Port, and also Tanjung Priok Harbour slowly kill economic activities in the Old Town. This together with the building of bridges preventing use of the river for transportation. Before the development  of freeway,  railway  station,  and Tanjung  Priok Harbour,  the big ships dock far north in deep water. Smaller traditional boats would bring goods to the city via canal. Now the big ships dock in new harbour and goods are sent to Old Jakarta by train. This new route is faster, cheaper, and safer. The canal and river are allowed to silt up and become shallow.

The development of the toll road and railway station from west to east cuts the city in two. The northern area is near the harbor while the south has become the city centre. The toll road and railway do not allow the urban beat from the south area to reach the north making it into a dead area.


To protect the Old Town of Jakarta the City of Jakarta has issued Regulation no.36 of 2014 re heritage building and heritage  areas.  Parliament  has  issued Law  number  11  of  2010  re  Cultural  Heritage  Protection.  To  promote  a sustainable tourism and increase the protection of Old Town Jakarta as tourism site – Minister of Tourism of Republic Indonesia has designated Old Town Jakarta as Prime Tourism Designation under ministerial decree no : KM.02.PW.202/MP/2014.

Comparaison avec d’autres biens similaires

Old Town of Jakarta as Part of South East Asian City will be compared with the other South East Asian Cities inscribed in the Unesco World Heritage lists namely : Melaka-Georgetown in Malaysia, Macao (China), Galle (Srilanka), Vigan (Philllipines) and Hoi An (Vietnam).

All South East Asian Cities which were built during the colonial era.

Reasons that make the property stand out :Batavia was the most important and the biggest trading town during the 17th-18th century reflecting the largest volume trade worldwide. It was the largest European town in Asia during that period.

However a comparison is also important to be conducted with the Family of Cities built by the Dutch during the VOC-WIC period. There were 4 important VOC towns adopting Dutch town planning and architecture namely : Batavia, Kaapstad (Capetown), Colombo (Srilanka), Galle (Srilanka).
All are VOC established towns adopting Dutch colonial town planning.

Reasons that make the property stand out : Only Batavia and Kapstad meet the spatial/functional, institutional and centrally located criterias which define Dutch colonial cities as opposed to Dutch trading posts and founded settlements. Colombo and Galle do not meet the criteria. However, compared to Kapstad – the Inter Asian Trade and Inter-island trade made Batavia far more vibrant culturally. Batavia was also the centre of the VOC trading empire from which the governor general ruled and this was reflected in the buildings and town plan.

There are other cities developed by other culture, but conquered or controlled/influenced by VOC during that period namely Deshima/Nagasaki (Japan), Melaca (Malaysia), Zeelandia (Taiwan), Mocha (Arab & Persia).

All Dutch Controlled Cities.
Reasons that make the property stand out : Some of these cities were not built based on Dutch town planning.  Some of the cities had town planning created by Portuguese (in case of Malacca and Macao) and some of the other cities were built by local people and subsequently the VOC seize the cities or make it as a trading ports.

In relation to Dutch Colonial Town built by WIC in Americas, the nominated properties are compared with Willemstad (Caribbean Island), Paramaribo (Suriname) – both Unesco World Heritage Site as well as Recife (Brazil) and New Amsterdam (North America).

All Dutch Colonial Cities based on Dutch Town Planning.
Reasons that make the property stand out :The trade controlled by VOC made trade flow between Batavia-Amsterdam far exceed the trade flow controlled by WIC between America-Amsterdam. As  a  result  towns  controlled  by  WIC  grew  at  a  much  slower  space compared to town built by VOC. This different of trade flow affect the magnitude of the design of the town planning and its complexity.