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Merdeka ('Freedom') Square – Lapangan Merdeka – is more than just a centrally located square in Jakarta. It is the place from where the Dutch governed the country in colonial times and where later the Indonesians proudly celebrated their independence. That is why this green square is fringed with colonial buildings, historic museums and monuments which continue to be reminders of the Indonesian struggle for independence.
In the middle of Merdeka Square stands an obelisk 137 metres in height. The tower, topped with a flame covered in 32 kilos of gold leaf, is Indonesia’s National Monument. The country fought long and hard for its independence. The goggle-boxes in the National History Museum under the monument tell the entire story. A lift takes you from the museum basement to the viewing platform, where you can enjoy unparalleled views of the metropolis.
Behind it lies the former Waterloo Square, also with a monument in honour of freedom. The statue of a man slipping out of his handcuffs, cast in copper coins, symbolises the liberation of Papua. Take a walk in the area and discover a variety of colonial architecture, including the Neo-Gothic cathedral and the current Department of Finances.