Take a walk to the city of Semarang, don’t forget to visit Lawang Sewu. This old building has become an icon of Semarang.
Located in the heart of Semarang, Lawang Sewu is so easy to visit. Initially this building was used as the head office of the Nederlandsch-Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij (NISM) Private Railway.
This Dutch heritage building was designed by Cosman Citroen from the company of Prof. Jakob F Klinkhamer and BJ Ouendag from Amsterdam. In the process of construction Lawang Sewu was established in stages, on an area of 18,232 square meters, on February 27, 1904.
The construction process of the Lawang Sewu main building began and was completed in July 1907. The main building was also called building A, then in 1916 the construction of an additional building which was also called building B was started. The construction of building B was completed in 1918.
Lawang Sewu was designed in the New Indies style which was accepted academically as Dutch Rationalism in the Indies, i.e. Similar to Dutch Rationalism. This design results from efforts to develop new solutions to integrate traditional precedents (classicism) with new technological possibilities. So it can be described as a transitional style between traditionalist and modernist which is heavily influenced by Berlage’s design.
This building has a unique design, which has the dominant characteristic of curved and simple elements. The building is designed to resemble the letter L and has a large number of windows and doors, to be used as an air circulation system.
Due to the large number of doors, the community calls it Lawang Sewu or also known as the thousand-door building. The beauty of Lawang Sewu is also depicted from the ornaments. Johannes Lourens Schouten stained glass where the stained glass tells the story of prosperity and the beauty of Java. It is a symbol of Dutch rule over Semarang and Batavia, maritime cities and the glory of the railway.
Other decorations on Lawang Sewu include pottery ornaments on the curved plane above the balcony, a small dome at the top of the water tower which is covered with copper, and the top of the tower with bronze decoration.
The existence of Lawang Sewu cannot be separated from the history of the struggle of the Indonesian people, where in 1942, when the Japanese army took over this building. The dungeon located in building B was turned into a prison with several executions taking place there.
In October 1945 Semarang was recaptured by the Dutch in the battle in Semarang, at which time Dutch troops used the tunnel leading to Building A to sneak into the city. Fighting ensued with many Indonesian fighters dying and the five employees who worked there also died.
Currently, Lawang Sewu is a tourist destination in the city of Semarang. It feels like you haven’t visited Semarang if you haven’t visited this iconic building.
The surroundings of Lawang Sewu are also so cool and peaceful. Because there are many large and well-maintained trees. This building is now used as a museum, a place for pre-wedding photos and has even been used as a shooting location for a national film.
In one corner of Lawang Sewu there is also a food court that sells food and drinks for visitors. The tariff to enter this area is relatively cheap, which is IDR 10,000 for adults and IDR 5000 for children and students.
Besides we can enjoy the beauty of the building, we can also gain knowledge about the history of the railways in Semarang. Therefore, if you go to Semarang, don’t forget to visit this iconic building.