Ingloriously dubbed ‘Sukarno’s final erection’, the 132m-high National Monument (aka Monas), which rises into the shroud of smog and towers over Merdeka Square, is both Jakarta’s principal landmark and the most famous architectural extravagance of the former president. Begun in 1961, Monas was not completed until 1975, when it was officially opened by Suharto. The monument is constructed from Italian marble, and is topped with a sculpted flame, gilded with 50kg of gold leaf.
Entrance to the monument is via an underground tunnel below the huge terrace; follow the crowds.
A section in the base is devoted to a small history museum (admission 5,000Rp) with dioramas of notable moments in Indonesian history. Some, such as the building of Borobudar, are quite good.