A melting pot of cultures, Semarang is located on the northern coast of Java and is the main port of the Central Java province. Semarang's rich cultural diversity and religious plurality is a result of the many times the city has been annexed by foreign powers and it has been occupied numerous times. Brightly coloured temples, colonial-era buildings, vibrant Chinese festivals, and lavish mosques all come together to make up Semarang's distinctly heady mix of cultures.
Semarang's strategic location along the northern Javanese coast makes it a popular stop-over hub for many cruise ships, which in turn makes the port-city a favourite day-trip destination amongst travellers looking for a slightly more off-beat experience. Semarang is known for its Dugderan festival celebrations, which heralds the coming of the Ramadan season. Attractions like Tugu Muda, the Sam Poo Kong temple, and the Grand Mosque highlight Semarang's cultural diversity.
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The protestant church, Blenduk Church, is quite popular amongst tourists for its colonial Dutch architectural design and for being the oldest church in Central Java, as it was built in 1753. It is located on Jalan Letjend Suprapto, 32 Kota Lama and remains open from 6:00 a.m. to 12:00 a.m. There is no admission fee levied for visiting the facility.
The historical site is known for its architectural design that has various doors and arcs and around 600 large windows. The name itself translates to “thousand doors” and the site is known to be haunted in folklore, although official attempts are constantly made to do away with the branding. It is located on Komplek Tugu Muda on the Pemuda street and the admission fee costs Rp 10,000 per adult and Rp 5,000 for children and students.
Gedong Batu Temple
Also known as the Sam Poo Kong is known for being the oldest Chinese temple in the region and is visited by both tourists and locals alike, especially during carnival season wherein people parade statutes of Zheng He, Lauw In and Thio Ke, who were famous and respected explorers, on the 30th of the sixth month for every lunar year. It is located on Jalan Simongan number 129 in Bongsari and remains open from 8:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. every day. Tickets for visiting only the square area cost Rp 10,000 and the fee goes up to Rp 30,000 for visiting the worship area too.
Central Java Great Mosque
Also known as Masjid Agung Jawa Tengah, the mosque is visited by tourists interested in the architectural make of the building and also by local followers of Islam. Being a highly popular tourist attraction, public transport like buses and trams are easily available for reaching the mosque. The mosque complex also has a restaurant for the visitors.
Chinatown in Semarang
The Semawis night market is open every night on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays of the week from 6:00 p.m. to 11:00 p.m. and is located on Jalan Gang Warung, number 50. It is known for the delightful mix of Indonesian and Chinese cuisine available for the visitors and also other stalls that sell Chinese herbs, spices and snacks and also souvenir t-shirts. There is no admission fee for visiting the marketplace.