Indonesia's National Monument or Monas, an icon of independence
One of the must-see things on your trip to Jakarta, the capital of Java, is the Indonesian National Monument. Also known as Monumen Nasional or Monas, it’s located centrally in Merdeka Square, between Sudirman and Thamrin Avenues. It’s surrounded by Jakarta’s most important government buildings. The centre of government was located here back in Dutch colonial times. On the north side is the Merdeka Palace, which was the residence of the Dutch governors and now houses the official seat of the Indonesian president and his cabinet. On the south side is the office of the Indonesian vice-president, the governor of Jakarta, the provincial parliament, and the US embassy. And on the west side you can see the National Museum, the Constitutional Court, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, and the first Indosat (telecommunications company) building.
Having observed these surroundings, it was Soekarno, the president of Indonesia, who insisted on the construction of the Monas in 1961. This politician wanted to have an iconic monument, just as Paris had the Eiffel Tower, and he wanted something similar but to represent the enormous effort of the people to gain the country’s independence.
- History of the Indonesian National Monument
- What you can see inside
- Information for the visit
- Where to stay in Jakarta
History of the Indonesian National Monument
The National Monument was designed by two great Indonesian architects: Frederich Silaban, who also designed the Istiqlal Mosque, and R.M. Soedarsono. Its inauguration took place on 12 January 1975, 14 years after its inception due to many problems and tragedies that occurred in the country in the meantime.
The Monas was the site of the first red and white flag that was flown after the proclamation of Independence on 17 August 1945. Over time, the flag has faded and is taken down for official ceremonies, but is accompanied by a perfectly preserved replica that stands in front of the Merdeka Palace. The obelisk is 137 metres high and is topped with a large bronze flame.
What you can see inside
Don’t be satisfied with just seeing the National Monument from the outside, but take the opportunity to visit the interior, both the pedestal and the observatory at the top. Before or after entering you can take a stroll around the Monas as there’s a very nice park with a fountain that offers a musical show and playground for locals and tourists to enjoy. You don’t have to go far to see the deer roaming among the trees in the park.
Once you step inside the pedestal of the Jakarta National Monument, you’ll find a museum three metres below ground level. Be sure to take a look at the diorama depicting Indonesia’s struggle for independence, as well as the original text reflecting the country’s proclamation of freedom.
From the pedestal of the Monas, you can take a lift up to an observation deck at the base of the golden flame, 115 metres above ground level. From this point you can admire a breathtaking panoramic view of Jakarta. For those who suffer from vertigo, it’s best not to…
Flame of Independence
The sculpture on top of the obelisk is made of bronze and weighs 14.5 tons. Curiously, the lift’s engine is located inside it. The base of the “fire”, which is goblet-shaped, is 3 metres high and the bronze flame, made up of 77 sections, is 14 metres long. The most striking feature of the sculpture is its gold-coloured fire shape, a shade owing to the fact that it has been covered with more than 30 kilograms of gold leaf.
Information for the visit
Something you should know about the National Monument is that it’s not free to enter, you have to pay for a ticket. It’s the same price for locals and tourists. You can choose to visit the museum only or you can pay extra to go up to the observation deck as well. The Monas is open from Tuesday to Sunday. From Tuesday to Friday, it’s open from 08:00 to 16:00 and from 19:00 to 22:00. On weekends, the evening opening hours are extended until 12 midnight. Avoid peak hours because it gets very busy and the queues are very long.
Where to stay in Jakarta
The most elegant and tastefully decorated hotel in the Indonesian capital is, in our opinion, The Orient Jakarta, a Royal Hideaway Hotel. You only have to walk through its stylish common areas or its rooms where beautiful oriental antiques are combined with state-of-the-art technology to fall in love with this five-star hotel. Located in the heart of Jakarta, it’s a small oasis where you can enjoy the luxury, gastronomy, and wellness offered by its facilities. In addition to its 153 spacious rooms with panoramic views, there are two large swimming pools, one of them on the rooftop, three restaurants, a spa, and fitness area. And if you’re travelling for business, the location is also perfect. A highly recommended hotel in Jakarta.
Frequently Asked Questions
How tall is the Indonesian National Monument?
The Indonesian National Monument stands at a total height of 137 metres above ground level. It's shaped like an obelisk and consists of a slender pedestal, a viewing platform, the base of a torch, and a bronze but gold-coloured flame measuring 14 metres.
Why is the monument named Monas?
The name Monas of this iconic Jakarta monument is short for “Monumen Nasional”, which is its name in Indonesian. To reach the Monas just head to Merdeka Square, the Indonesian capital's governmental hub.
Is it possible to visit the Indonesian National Monument?
The National Monument is open for visits every day except Mondays. It's open in the morning and afternoon. If you want to see the city all lit up, book your ticket for late, around 22:00 on weekdays and until 12 midnight on weekends.