Gedung Lawang Sewu

Travel Guide Asia Indonesia Java Central Java Semarang Gedung Lawang Sewu

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Introduction

Gedung Lawang Sewu model

Gedung Lawang Sewu model

© theo1006

History

Lawang Sewu is Javanese for ‘thousand doors’. The word thousand is used here meaning ‘many’. Reports on the actual number of doors differ, but come close to a thousand! The complex served as head office of the Dutch East Indies Railway Company until the Japanese invasion in 1942. The Japanese used the basement as a prison, and several prisoners were executed there. In October 1945 Gedung Lawang Sewu was the scene of the five-day “Battle of Semarang” between Indonesian independence fighters and Japanese soldiers who refused to surrender. Six railway employees died in the battle. After the Dutch relinquished sovereignty the Indonesian army as well as the Department of Transportation used the complex before it was returned to the Indonesian Railway Company. By then it was in a state unfit for use as a head office. It is said that a daughter of dictator Soeharto intended to convert Gedung Lawang Sewu into a hotel, but these plans came to nothing because of Soeharto's fall from power. The decaying buildings attracted lots of tourists, domestic and foreign. For a small entrance fee one could roam through them from cellar to loft. Not surprising considering its history, Gedung Lawang Sewu is believed to be haunted. Adventurous youngsters dared each other to stay a night in the basement. One could even buy blurred photo's of the “ghosts”. In 2007 an Indonesian horror movie was shot on the site.

Restoration

By 2009 the Railway Company with support of the provincial government had developed a master plan for restoring and utilizing Gedung Lawang Sewu. The main L-shaped “A” building - the first one to be constructed from 1904 until 1907, that determines the status as landmark - has had its leaking roof thoroughly repaired. Cracked tiles of ancient Dutch manufacture have been replaced by locally produced replicas. Missing doors have been replaced, electric lighting been refitted, and so on. The two towers stand shining white again, but have not been put to their original purpose; they hold big water containers that used to provide running water to the building. On 5 Juli 2011 the site was reopened to the public by the spouse of president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

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Opening Hours

Daily from 6:00am to 6:00pm. Basement visit until 9:00pm.

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Cost

Adults Rp 10,000, children and students Rp 5,000. Guide for nightly basement visit Rp 30,000.

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Sights and Activities

Staircase with stained-glass windows

Staircase with stained-glass windows

© theo1006

The main "A" building features a monumental entrance hall with granite staircase and stained-glass windows. It is connected by a gallery to the I-shaped “B” building that was added from 1916 to 1918 and has not yet been restored. To appreciate the state of deterioration the main building was in, do not skip the loft and the basement of either building. Separate in the back-yard is the “C” building, that may have been the residence of the company director. It now houses a museum and a display of the restoration work. Somewhat aside in the front yard are a retired steam locomotive and a monument for the railway employees who died in the Battle of Semarang.

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Getting There

Gedung Lawang Sewu faces a main traffic node, Tugu Muda Circle, at 2.5 kilometres from the old town. TransSemarang buses stop close by.

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Contributors

as well as Utrecht (11%)

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This is version 6. Last edited at 17:53 on Nov 24, 17 by theo1006. 1 article links to this page.

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