Gereja Sion

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Timings : 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM (Masses held on second Sunday of each month)

Gereja Sion, Jakarta Overview

Gereja Sion, which translates to Sion Church in Indonesian, is a quaint historic landmark situated in the Pinangsia Administrative District of Taman Sari in Jakarta. The church had been constructed outside the city walls of Indonesia in order to cater to the minorities, commonly referred to as the ‘Black Portuguese”, who were being oppressed during the reign of the Portuguese. This is why Gereja Sion is also known as the Black Portuguese Church.

Standing tall since 1695, the magnificent Gereja Sion is the oldest church of Indonesia and showcases the existence of the Portuguese prior to the Dutch colonization. At present, this church is one of the most popular stopovers for tourists while exploring Indonesia. Its exquisite architecture coupled with its antique aura draw in people in large numbers throughout the year.

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Features of Gereja Sion

Sprawled across an area of about 6725 square meters, the captivating Gereja Sion shows the characteristics of Dutch architecture with its high windows shaped like domes, a simple façade, and a ward-like ensemble. The regal ebony pulpit inspired by baroque style, the copper chandeliers, and the pipe organ add to its fascinating appearance.

The interior of the church is devoid of clutter and is only punctuated by six huge pillars. A few tombs are dotted in the graveyard within the premises, among which lies the tombstone of the renowned Governor-General Hendrick Zwaardecroon. Being one of the few culturally significant landmarks in Jakarta, this place has tremendous historical value.

History

The dignified Gereja Sion was particularly built for the Eurasians who had been forcefully captured from the various trading posts in Malaya and India before bringing them to Jakarta to work as slaves. In 1693, the construction of Gereja Sion commenced, and after two years, on the 23rd of October 1695, it was officially inaugurated. Back then, the church was known as De Nieuwe Portugeesche Buitenkerk, which translates to ‘The Portuguese Outer Church’.

However, when the Japanese occupied Indonesia in 1942, usage of the term ‘Portuguese Church’ was strictly prohibited, and the church was shut down for a couple of years. When the government underwent a transitional phase after a few years, the Dutch government gave over the ownership of Gereja Sion to the body of Protestant Churches of Western Indonesia, following which the name of The Black Portuguese Church was changed to Gereja Protestan di Indonesia Congregation of Zion, and from that time onwards, it is also commonly known as the Zion Church.

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