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  • Indonesia's Capital, Jakarta, lies on the northwest coast of Java, the most populous island in the world.

  • This sprawling metropolis is the republic's political and economic engine room, and home to over 10 million people.

  • The sheer size and frenetic pace of Jakarta can sometimes make it feel like a city unraveling at the seams.

  • But it's those ten million residents who hold it all together.

  • Long after the traffic jams are forgotten, it's the warmth, pride and smiles of the people, which are remembered.

  • Despite its rather gritty reputation, this is a city that often charms its way into the hearts of travellers.

  • To get to the heart of Jakarta, and indeed the entire nation, head to Merdeka Square.

  • Once a humble buffalo field, this one-kilometer-square park tells the story of a nation.

  • From its earliest kingdoms, to its throwing off the yoke of Dutch colonial rule.

  • From the square's center rises the towering National Monument, Monas, whose Flame of Independence shines its reassuring and unifying light across the entire archipelago.

  • All around the square are some of the capital's most elegant and important buildings, such as the National Gallery.

  • On the square's western side is the National Museum of Indonesia,whose majestic courtyard and stately rooms display national treasures from across the ages.

  • To the northeast, rises the gleaming minaret of Istiqlal Mosque, the nation's main house of worship and the largest mosque in South East Asia.

  • During Ramadan, over 100,000 worshipers gather at a time in this modernist masterpiece.

  • Lovingly constructed from Javanese marble and stainless steel.

  • Religious tolerance is one of the central guiding principles of the Indonesian Republic.

  • As a symbolic gesture of harmony, the mosque was built directly opposite the magnificent twin spires of Jakarta Cathedral.

  • But it's not just around Merdeka Square that you'll discover the spirit and riches of this city.

  • In the heart of Jakarta's old town, lies Fatahillah Square, home to Jakarta's best heritage architecture and some of its finest museums.

  • Housed in the old city hall, the Jakarta Historical Museum provides a fascinating glimpse into the city's colonial past.

  • For over 300 years, the city was called Batavia, the capital of the Dutch East Indies.

  • Known as The Jewel of Asia, this was the epicenter of the Dutch trading empire.

  • Also facing the square, the Wayang Museum celebrates the incredible puppets of Java and beyond.

  • While the Museum of Fine Arts and Ceramics showcases the paintings of Indonesian masters, as well as ceramics from all over Asia.

  • After you've explored the museums around Fatahilla Square, pull up a chair at Café Batavia.

  • Once the offices of the Dutch East India Company, for the last three decades this 200-year-old building has been serving up the coolest old-world charm in Jakarta.

  • Times haven't changed much in Sunda Kelapa either, which is just a short walk north of the old town.

  • Take a boat ride around this ancient port, and see traditional Makassar Schooners unloading and resupplying for inter-island voyages, just as they have for over eight centuries.

  • When it's time to take a break from the non-stop bustle of Jakarta, embark on a nautical adventure of your own from nearby Ancol, and explore the Pulau Seribu National Park.

  • Just a 30-minute ride from Jakarta, lies Pulau Bidadari, a tiny resort island famed for its tranquility.

  • On nearby Pulau Onrust, once the site of Dutch ship yards, the fortifications still stand.

  • Despite the British bombardments and tidal waves which rocked the island in the 1800s.

  • Indonesia is made up of over 17,000 islands and 34 provinces.

  • To sample them all in a single day, head to Taman Mini, a theme park that brings the entire archipelago to Jakarta.

  • From the temples of Bali, to the bull races of Madura, the ethnic, cultural and architectural diversity of this island republic is waiting to be discovered.

  • Jakarta is a gateway to Indonesia through which many rush.

  • But it's a gateway that offers much to those who linger.

  • From modern malls to roadside stalls.

  • From markets where you can snack for a few rupiah to restaurants where you can dine like a sultan.

  • From manic streets to places of absolute calm.

  • This is a city that rewards the adventurous, and those who appreciate the value of a smile.

  • Visiting Jakarta can be challenging at times, but this is a city where light dances from the most unexpected places, and moments.

  • As the Javanese say; Urip Iku Urup, to be alive is to be a flame.

  • So come, and share the light, and smiles, of Jakarta.

Indonesia's Capital, Jakarta, lies on the northwest coast of Java, the most populous island in the world.

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