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Merdeka Square, Jakarta Overview

As one of the largest public squares in the world, Merdeka Square is considered a must-visit attraction in Jakarta. Boasting of open green spaces shaded by a tree cover, well-paved roads winding all around, and Indonesia’s National Monument at its centre, it’s certainly a leisure destination for those looking to spend a quiet day exploring Jakarta City. One merely needs to visit Merdeka Square to get a glimpse into Jakarta and Indonesia’s rich history, with plenty of attractions within walking distance.

With no entry fee, Merdeka Square is open to the public for all hours of the day. It is known to be quite busy as a location for local fairs, artisan markets, and even military parades. Aside from its sprawling lawns, the grand Merdeka Square includes a deer enclosure, a musical fountain, and sports and recreation spaces in its 75-hectare space. 

Located at the centre of Jakarta City, Merdeka Square is known for its historical, cultural, and architectural importance. From watching the deer roam free in their enclosure to enjoying a family picnic or admiring Jakarta from atop the National Monument, there are plenty of activities at Merdeka Square to keep you busy for hours!

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Architecture and Design of Merdeka Square

The Merdeka Square is designed as four diagonal streets coming together to form an ‘X’ with the National Monument in the centre. These streets divide the square into the North section, South section, East section, and West section. While the South section has been developed into a building complex, the other sections remain open park spaces.

The roads were initially made of asphalt but with renovations in the 1990’s, these were changed to French stone pavement. Moreover, a plaza was created at the square’s centre around the National Monument.

You’ll find that Merdeka Square has two zones: Taman Medan Merdeka (the garden spaces) and Ruang Agung (the grand space) around the National Monument. Taman Medan Merdeka zone has four parks which include small attractions like a bust of Indonesian poet Chairil Anwar, a statue of Indonesian hero Kartini, a deer park, food stalls, and a musical fountain. These areas are used for other activities like football games, jogging, flying kites, and family picnics.

Kartini Statue at Merdeka Square
Kartini Statue at Merdeka Square
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Ruang Agung zone has no trees, assuring full attention on the national monument. It has small grassy areas, a paved plaza, and plenty of decorative plants. This zone is used for national events like military parades, flag-raising ceremonies, and civic demonstrations. Every Independence Day, it is customary for replicas of the national flag and the text of the Proclamation of Independence to cross Merdeka Cross on the way to Merdeka Palace in the morning and in the evening.

National Monument

One cannot visit Merdeka Square without making a trip to the monument at the centre: the National Monument, locally known as Monas. It was opened to the public in 1975 to commemorate the country’s independence struggle against colonization. Towering at 449 feet, the monument is made up of an Italian marble obelisk on top of a square platform.

The National Monument has a giant pestle and mortar to symbolize Indonesia’s agricultural roots while the fire at the top (covered in gold foil) symbolizes the people’s undying spirit. Another interpretation is that the mortar-pestle symbolizes the phallic philosophy symbols of linga (the male organ) and yoni (the female organ). Together, they depict harmony and balance. You can take a lift up 377 feet to the viewing platform that offers spectacular views.

National Monument Jakarta
National Monument at Merdeka Square
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At the monument’s base, you’ll find two museums: Freedom Hall and Hall of Contemplation. You can visit the museums for IDR 5,000 (INR 25) for adults and IDR 2,000 (INR 10) for children while access to the viewing platform is priced at IDR 10,000 (INR 50). From the viewing platform, you’ll get to truly see the architectural marvel that went behind creating Merdeka Square.

How to Reach Merdeka Square

Merdeka Square is located on RT.5/RT.2, Gambir in Central Jakarta City. By bus, it is accessible to the Transjakarta rapid bus transit service through four stops around the square: K1.14 Monas shelter, K2.16 Gambir 1, K2.22 Balai Kota, and K2.23 Gambir

You can also opt for using the KA Commuter Jabodetabek which stops at Juanda station and Gondangdia station that are within walking distance from the square. For inter-city travel, Gambir Station is located within walking distance as well.

Jakarta’s free city tour bus stops at multiple locations around the Merdeka Square: three stops along Medan Merdeka Barat Avenue, one in front of National Museum, and one in front of Balai Kota Jakarta. The Jakarta Mass Rapid Transit that is under construction is expected to contain a Monas subway station as well. If you’d like to opt for private transport, the square is a well-known destination amongst three-wheelers and taxis.

Tips

1. Although there is tree cover, Merdeka Square can become quite hot during the afternoons. It’s advisable to carry plenty of water and sunscreen lotion if you plan on spending the day here
2. Both Merdeka Square and the National Monument become quite crowded by late morning. If you’d like to visit without having to manoeuvre through large crowds for hours, we’d suggest being here before 11:00 AM

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