Lawang Sewu


Semarang's most famous landmark, Lawang Sewu ('Thousand Doors'), comprises two colossal colonial buildings that were one of the headquarters of the Indonesian railways during the Dutch era. The structures are sparsely used with only the occasional exhibit (mostly about the railway system) on view. Nevertheless, the empty corridors, where clerks and engineers once worked, have their own interest, with features including stained glass and a magnificent marble staircase.

Wandering the illuminated buildings at night, there is a strong sense of history and a chill rising from the open door to the unlit basement. Little wonder, then, that the building is regarded as a haunted house by locals. In fact, during WWII the Japanese occupied the building and used the dungeons for interrogation. Occasionally tours of the flooded basement are run – described by some as a deeply moving experience.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Semarang attractions

1. Simpang Lima

0.95 MILES

While Jl Pemuda, Semarang's premier boulevard in Dutch times, remains an important artery and shopping street, Simpang Lima is the sociable hub of modern…

2. Mesjid Besar

1.14 MILES

Facing the Pasar Johar market, Semarang's Grand Mosque is the main, although obviously far from the only, focus of worship in the city.

3. Gedung Batu

1.19 MILES

This huge Chinese temple complex, 5km southwest of the city centre, comprises three main temple buildings and many smaller structures that date back to…

4. Chinatown

1.34 MILES

Semarang’s Chinatown is well worth investigating, particularly around the riverside Gang Lombok. With temples, pagodas, shop houses, jade jewellers,…

5. Tay Kak Sie Temple

1.36 MILES

This brightly painted temple, with its elaborate tiled roofs decorated with dragons, dates back to 1746 and remains an active place of worship. Two…

6. Old City

1.58 MILES

Semarang’s atmospheric old quarter, often referred to by its Dutch name, the Outstadt, is well worth investigating. Until recently, most of the area’s…

7. Gereja Blenduk

1.59 MILES

Built in 1753, this elegant church is graced with a huge cupola and marks the centre of the old colonial quarter of Semarang. The interior sports a…

8. Semarang Gallery


In the middle of the old quarter, this wonderful art gallery occupies an old Dutch warehouse and is dedicated to Indonesian contemporary art. Some of the…