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Kali Besar, Jakarta Overview

Kali Besar is an 18th-century canal built along the River Ciliwung. It connects the port to the old city of Batavia. Kali Besar translates to ‘Grand River’ and the canal is presently a part of Kali Krukut of the Tambora subdistrict. This channel once thrived with boats shuttling goods to and from the port. Kali Besar formed a crux for commerce in the area and was lined with houses of Batavia’s rich and famous.

This 18th-century canal connects Sunda Kelapa port to the Jakarta Old Town when commerce flourished. The beauty of Kali Besar can be seen on either side of the canal, populated with lush green palm trees and beautiful Dutch buildings. Present-day Kali Besar reflects vestiges of the bygone era, with the buildings in various stages of restoration. 

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Things to Do

Visitors can start by taking a stroll around the Kota Intan Bridge, across the Kali Besar canal. It is a wooden drawbridge, the last remaining bridge of its kind. You can also rent a colourful bicycle and explore the streets. The buildings along the Kali Besar canal have a unique European feel. They serve as a poignant reminder of the city’s Dutch colonial era. The street is also lined with mobile food carts that sell a variety of local street food. 


Kali Besar was the centre of trading and economy in the Dutch era. The buildings along the canal were used for the manufacture and repair of ships. They also housed labourers who would work on the ships. Kali Besar later transformed into an elite residential area. Malaria outbreaks in the 19th-century made this area no longer suitable for businesses. 

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