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The Cultural Splendor of Semarang

Have you ever set foot in Semarang? You have? Then I bet you've tasted the city's famous delicacies: Lumpia, Tahu pong, Soto Bangkong, Wingko Babat, and Bandeng Presto, to name a few. Yep, they're so characteristic of Semarang that they make us associate them with the capital of the province of Central Java. But it's time for us to look at the old city in a new perspective: it features rich heritage dating back hundreds of years ago. If you want your next visit to the city to be more than a gastronomic one, you'd better read on.

Lawang Sewu : A Paradise for photographers
At first impression, this old building looks spooky. But as you enter the building, you'll think of it either as even spookier or as an impressive ancient construction. What with its countless doors (thus the name Lawang Sewu; meaning Thousand Doors in Javanese), which allow little light to penetrate the ex-administrative building in colonial times, the twilight impression creates a perfect haven for avid photographers. Usually, a black and white picture of Lawang Sewu is what they're after. But there are more things to fascinate them: three colossal stained glass windows, the landing of a gigantic staircase in the hall. They are dazzling!

Chinese Temples: The Oriental Legacies
Semarang is a melting pot where you can find Javanese culture mixed with those of Arabic, Indian, and of course, Chinese. Abundant Chinese temples testify to the latter influence. Most of them are located in Pecinan or China Town. But the most famous duo are Tay Kak Sie Temple and Sam Poo Kong Temple. Don't ever leave Semarang without visiting Sam Poo Kong Temple Gedung Batu. This Chinese shrine has lately undergone and extensive renovation. And the new structure looks magnificent! The place of worship, built in honor to the world celebrated Muslim Sailor, Ceng Ho, seems to welcome visitors with its gold and red colors, not to mention the brilliant Chinese Lanterns surrounding it.

Kota Lama: A Souvenir from the Colonial Era
If you come from Jakarta, I am sure you are familiar with a place called Kota or Beos. It's an old section of the capital city that still reflects the Dutch heritage with its old buildings and a city square. What other city can proudly boasts of its wtill well preserved colonial heritage? Right ... Semarang! Kota Lama or Outstadt (outer town in Dutch) truly reflects its name. It's both old and seemingly separated from the rest of the city. Of course you can enjoy the view of many old buildings there, but the primadona is Gereja Blenduk. The Oldest Christian church in Central Java stands out for its huge copper dome. Its 18th century hexagonal walls house a Greek cross and a Baroque style pipe organ. The Kota Lama area, just like many parts of Semarang, suffers from regular floods that continually destroy the asphalt roads: so, the government decided to pave the whole area. As a result, Outstadt looks even quainter.

Actually, there are many more things that you can enjoy in Semarang. But with the knowledge of the splendor of the city that you've just read about, hopefully you will have a different experience next time you revisit the place.