Islamic School with Classic-Style Building in Surakarta


As a native of Solo (Surakarta) city, I have visited many popular attractions here. However, I’m still craving for knowing more interesting places that I haven’t seen before. Thus, I’m so excited to find this place during walking on the super hot weather in the center of the city, in the area of Sriwedari in Slamet Riyadi street.


It’s already 12:00 pm so as a moslem I need to do “Solat Dzuhur” an afternoon compulsary prayer. Therefore, I need to find a nearest mosque from where my position is. Luckily, I see a mosque which is near to me inside the school complex of MAN 2 Surakarta or popularly known in another name of Mambaul Ulum, a high islamic school owned by government. Entering the area, I get surprised by the architecture of the buildings, both for its main school’ building and its mosque. I feel them are so classical and grandeur.


Okay, I need to pray first then I’m gonna explore and asking information about this place. Soon after I finish praying, I begin to walk around. In the wall of the mosque, I see an incription showing that the building has been declared as a heritage site since 1997 so it is on priority list to preserve.


In fact this 4,000 square meters area was used to be owned by rich merchant from Banjarmasin of South Kalimantan with Nongtjik as the name of the building. The area was finally bought by Indonesian Ministry of Religion. It was functioned differently through the years. In 1950, it started to function as Islamic court. Morever, 1973 it changed its function as school since the court was moved to Semarang.


There are many notable national figures who are the alumni of the school. One of them is Kiai Haji Imam Zarkasi, the founder of well-known international Islamic school of Gontor (Pondok Pesantren Gontor) in East Java. There is a banner in front of school showing his quote which is interesting for me. “Don’t be discouraged to face life, to meet people, but take care of yourself to build your dignity”.




Ampel Mosque

In the middle of hustle and bustle of Surabaya, there is an oasis which can give a calm and serenity. This is Ampel Mosque, a religious site which has been standing here for 6 centuries. Ampel Mosque is named after the founder of the mosque, Sunan Ampel, one of 9 saints (Wali Sanga) having role in spreading Islam in Java. The architecture itself shows the strong influence of Javanese style implying a good acculturation between native Javanese and Arabic.

Built in 1421, this historical mosque has been a center of Islam teaching and public activities. Peope come here not only for worshipping but also for gathering and even doing business. Mosque as the place for praying is surrounded by many food stalls, souvenir shops, and simple homestays.

The lively global activities have been existing here for centuries. It is proven by many buildings around which are influenced by Arabic and Chinese style indicating the life of traders from outside the country who continued living here.

Time Traveling with Tak Kie

Opened since 1927, Tak Kie ice coffee shop’s classic old town atmosphere is generally the same until today. Feeling like traveling back into the past, this coffee shop offers modesty through its interior design until its menu. It only offers two kinds of coffee which are original one and mixed coffee with milk.

It opened for the first time as tea shop. However, it changes into coffee shop that eventually becomes popular trademark of China Town Glodok for almost a century.


A Story from the First Pagoda in Jakarta

Lines of big red candles are placed right in the main hall of praying in Kim Tek Le Pagoda.

You may say “unbelievable!” when you know that pagoda in Glodok China Town of Jakarta has already been there for more 350 years. Kim Tek Le Pagoda or locals popularly called it as Vihara Dharma Bhakti was firstly bulit in 1650 by Chinese Lieutenant Kwee Hoen making this as the oldest pagoda in Jakarta.

It was firstly named as Kwam Im Teng. However, many native people living on that area had the difficulty to pronounce it and re-said it as klentheng. Furthermore klentheng is widely spread as Indonesian language for pagoda.

Many people come to pray in Kim Tek Le Temple. There are many altars with various images or statues of gods and goddesses for fulfilling the various needs of people who want to pray with different purposes each other.

Another unique tradition in Kim Tek Le Pagoda is the ritual of bird releasing. There are several sellers of birds. They are not just ordinary bird sellers who sell birds for people’s pet. They provide birds for special purpose in Fangsheng ceremony in which people will release some birds as the symbol of gaining freedom and showing compassion.

For some people, they will buy birds in the number which is the same to their age then they will release those birds to the sky. Furthermore, they will start to commit being vegetarian as the symbol of leaving world tempation.

This practise is somehow controversial in which actually sellers hunt the birds and put them on the cages at the first place. In fact it is contradictive to the symbol of Fangsheng ceremony itself.

After praying, people can also buy many choices of toys sold right in the yard of the pagoda for their kids.

One of the most attractive toys is the scrolling lion. This a lion-like figure which is pushed by stick so it can scroll its rubber wheel. This may be a nice choice of affordable toy as the gift.

Photos by Sonny Hendrawan Saputra