National Monument

The National Monument, or "Monas" as it is popularly called, is one of the monuments built during the Sukarno era of fierce nationalism. The top of the National Monument (Monas) is Freedom Square. It stands for the people's determination to achieve freedom and the crowning of their efforts in the Proclamation of Independence in August 1945. The 137-meter tall marble obelisk is topped with a flame coated with 35 kg of gold. The base houses a historical museum and a hall for meditations. The monument is open to the public and upon request the lift can carry visitors to the top, which offers a bird's eye view on the city and the sea.

Go early to beat the crowds and the haze. It is easy for the less physically able as lifts take visitors to the top. The diorama exhibition in the basement gives such a distorted view of Indonesian history - thanks to the dictator Suharto wanting to brainwash the nation - it's amusing. This imposing obelisk is Jakarta's most famous landmark. Construction started in 1961 under President Soekarno but was not completed until 1975, under President Soeharto. The monument houses a couple of museums. The Freedom Hall depicts Indonesia's struggle for independence through a series of dioramas, whereas the Hall of Contemplation displays the original Declaration of Independence document and a recording of the speech. An elevator takes one to the observation platform, which commands a bird's-eye view of the cityscape.

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