Tuesday, July 26, 2016

The Forgotten Alun-Alun Semarang

The North-West part of Alun-Alun Semarang, with Muziektent (gazebo for music performance). Its depicted in the pictures that Alun-alun Semarang crossed by tram lines from the central station of Jurnatan to the west part of Semarang along Bodjong Weg (currently Jalan Pemuda) inaugurated on March, 3rd 1883.
There’s a popular place in Semarang called Simpang Lima means 5-way intersections. This centrum of Semarang having a big lawn in the middle of it, which became the famous rendesvouz for the people in Semarang, surrounded by plenty of hangout place. Most of the people recognize it as the Alun-Alun of Semarang. The location which is in the centre of “modern” Semarang, in the heart of its business district and also there’s a big mosque in the west side of it, made the peoples strongly believes that this was the Alun-Alun of Semarang. Alun-alun is a traditional characteristic of cities in Java. It can be seen in almost all cities in the island, well the existence of alun-alun for a city in Java is really a big deal, seen from its socio-cultural aspects. But actualy, the Alun-Alun of Semarang, isnt in Simpang Lima. 

Alun-Alun Semarang in 1867, occupied about 7 hectares land and in distance
its visible the complex of Kanjengan. (source: Leiden University Library)
Alun-Alun Semarang has long gone existed, likely since 16th century when the Kabupaten (eng: Regency) of Semarang established. The form of Alun-Alun Semarang were unique. Unlike the alun-alun form in general, which have square form. There’s an hypothesis that its related with the bigest uprising under the VOC rules in Dutch Indies, Geger Pecinan. The initial morphology of the cities were devastated, since Semarang became the front city, illustrated in the map that made in 1741. But beyond that, the Alun-Alun Semarang having its Javanese Morphology just like the others alun-alun in Java, its having big Beringin Trees (Ficus benjamina) in the center, and surrounded by notable buildings such as the Masjid Agung (eng: Great Mosque) , Pendapa Kabupaten (regency centre), Prisons and Market. 

Initialy, the Alun-Alun Semarang occupied 7 hectares area, and its not changed until in the end of 19th century. Then the north-east part of alun-alun were taken to built the new Post and Telegraph Office, Telephone office, and later also Central Bus Station were built in 20’s decade. In the South-West part of the alun-alun also taken to built the Stadstuin, the City Park. Then the alun-alun were reduced into 3,8 hectares area only. The Alun-Alun of course became a rendezvous point for people in Semarang. Alun-alun became an ideal place to hangout and socialized amongst people. Several events held in alun-alun recorded in photos of several archieves centre, such as horse racing, theatre, and bazaar. Even the transfer souvereignity from Dutch to Indonesia in 1949, here in Alun-Alun Semarang also became the place of ceremony with Letkol. Gatot Subroto became the representatives of Republic Indonesia government.

Alun-Alun Semarang in 1920. Here We could saw several Beringin trees  (Ficus benjamina) a typical trees that placed in alun-alun and also the fence of Stadtuin. In the distance also visible the roofs of Masjid Agung Semarang.
(source: Leiden University Library)
After the independence, the alun-alun role as open space were declined, its even suffering for desacralization. Mostly, the alun-alun area remains preserved and never been converted considering its outstanding value moreover in the Javanese society. But here in Semarang, its different. Started with demolition of Stadtuin and converted into Pasar Ya’ik Permai in 60’s decade, the South-east part of alun-alun also converted into the extention of Pasar Ya’ik, made Pasar Johar Semarang, the central market lost “its face”. Then the alun-alun area completely gone when in 1977 its built Hotel Metro in North-West part of alun-alun and also STIE BPD. 

Trace back the area now, where once Alun-Alun Semarang existed were completely different. Its even made We forgot that once, we have a place named Alun-Alun Semarang.

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