Ambarawa Train Station Museum

Central Java

Fans of vintage railways will love this museum, located in the premises of the old Koening Willem I station, a couple of kilometres outside of town on the road to Magelang. The station opened in 1873 and still sports a tiled passenger terminal, old clocks, conductor offices filled with vintage typewriters and ticket windows stocked with telegraph machines. The stars of the show, however, are the 22 turn-of-the-century steam engines.

Oiled, painted and maintained with loving care, the engines look ready for action and indeed, once a month and on high days and holidays, a selected locomotive makes the three-hour trip to the hills (four hours if these old veterans struggle with the journey). Within the museum, visitors may climb aboard, pretend to work the brake or open the coal engine port and peer in the windows of wood-panelled carriages with their evocation of a gentrified past. An exhibition charts the development of railways in Java and illustrates some of the civil engineering challenges of carving a route through the jungle.

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