Indonesia is a country with rich cultural and historical background, and each city in this tropical country has unique historical and cultural background that is worth visiting. Semarang City is a seemingly metropolitan city with modern buildings business and trade sectors and its own share of urban problems. However, despite these common factors of a modern city, Semarang keeps a long story that shapes its characteristics.
Semarang Historical Background
Semarang is the capital city of Central Java, one of provinces in Java Island. Semarang originated from a coastal area called Pragota, which originated from 8th Century A.D. At that time, Semarang was already a part of a kingdom called Mataram Kuno (Old Mataram), and famous for its port. This port once became the place where Admiral Cheng Ho from China docked his ship in his famous long voyage in year 1405. You can still see the traces of his coming from temple and mosque, called Klenteng Sam Po Kong. These buildings are still used by locals and visited by tourists who are interested with Semarang City history.
The name ‘Semarang’ came from a tree called Asem Arang, which grew in Pragota hills that was, at that time, began to show signs of fertility after years of bad soil condition. Before and after Indonesia’s Independence in August 1945, Semarang became a battlefield between Indonesian soldiers and Dutch as well as Japanese soldiers. Most populations in Semarang are from ethnic Javanese, but there are also populations of other ethnic groups including Chinese. The majority of people here are Muslims.
Semarang is a city with a lot of local appeals. The name Venice of Java was given because Semarang City has large rivers that run in the middle of the city, just like Venice (the nickname was actually from the Dutch; originally it was ‘Venetie van Java’). Semarang also has other interesting nicknames that signify its main appeals and unique characteristics.
For example, the city is usually called ‘Kota Lumpia’ by locals (The City of Lumpia, a kind of spring roll), which is a popular food in this city. You can easily find lumpia anywhere, from street side vendors to restaurants and even café. This food is also a proof of merged culture between Java and China. Semarang City also has a lot of tourist attractions with their own unique appeals, such as:
- Historical spots, like MURI Museum that displays various records in Indonesia, Museum Jamu Nyonya Meneer that displays rich Indonesian traditional herbal drink culture, Candi Tugu (Tugu Temple) and many more.
- Natural attractions, like Maron, Marina and Tirang Beaches, Tirangcawang Island and Kreo Cave.
- Religious buildings that have rich historical and cultural backgrounds, such as Masjid Agung (‘The Grand Mosque), Masjid Baiturrahman, Sam Po Kong Temple, Gereja Katedral Semarang (Semarang Church Cathedral) and many more.
- Famous shopping places, like Pasar Johar (Johar Market), Java Mall and Citra Land Mall
Despite its look as metropolitan city, Semarang City is a place with deep and historical background; visit this city next time you visit Indonesia and get lost amidst the vibrant Venice of Java.
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