This huge Chinese temple complex, 5km southwest of the city centre, comprises three main temple buildings and many smaller structures that date back to 1724, although built on earlier foundations. Most of the elegant, red-painted structures are Indo-Chinese in style, with tiered pagoda-style roofs.
Gedung Batu lies around 30 minutes from central Semarang, reached by taking the Damri bus 2 from Jl Pemuda to Karang Ayu (a suburb west of central Semarang) followed by an angkot (minibus) to the temple.
The temple was originally built in honour of Admiral Cheng Ho, the famous Muslim eunuch of the Ming dynasty, who led a Chinese fleet on seven expeditions to Java and other parts of Southeast and West Asia in the early 15th century. Cheng Ho, who first arrived in Java in 1405 and is believed to have helped spread Islam, is now honoured as a saint called Sam Po. A gilded statue in his honour, lit by fairy lights, takes pride of place in an inner chamber. Styled as a cave and flanked by two great dragons, this sanctum gives the temple its popular name, Gedung Batu (Stone Building).
Note that women are not allowed to enter the temples when menstruating, but they can visit the complex with its park-like grounds and koi carp ponds.