Lawang Sewu : The Old 1000 Door Building

Lawang Sewu iin Semarang City
photo by under CCASA 3.0

Lawang Sewu is an old building located in Semarang City, The Capital of Central Java Province. The name is in Javanese and has a meaning in English of “1000 doors”.

The name refers to the physic of the building itself. This historical structure has a lot of door and also big windows. The size of the windows is so big and almost at the same width and height as the doors. This makes overall, the frame to have more doors without windows.

The big size windows are common during the Dutch era in Indonesia. Many of buildings, houses, or other structure made by them have similar size windows. This was made in anticipation of humid and hot climate in Indonesia. Bigger windows meant more air influx and this made the air inside the structure becomes cooler.

The history of Lawang Sewu

Semarang Lawang Sewu
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This ancient building establisment was started in 1904 and finished 3 years later, in 1907. It was then used as the office of Nederlands(ch)-Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij (NIS/NISM) or Netherlands-Indische Railway Company.

NISM was one of the Dutch railway company that operated in Indonesia at that time.

During Indonesia War of Independence, several times the place became battle field between either Dutch or Japanese troops against Indonesia freedom fighter. It was said also Dutch and Japanese troops used the building as prisoners for captured Indonesian fighters. There is a dungeon inside the structure.

Several renovation has been made to the structure but the core of it has been kept as it was. Therefore, the look of Lawang Sewu are not too much different from its look in the past.

Horror Story related to Lawang Sewu

Lawang Sewu
Photo by Herta Pari

There are stories circulated in Semarang about how full of horror the building was.

It was linked with the fact that Lawang Sewu once used as jail and a place to torture the captured Indonesian warriors. It was also mentioned that there was a location inside that were used for massacre of Indonesians during the war.

The stories that can be heard are from the sound of tortured or massacred person upto some ghost appearance.

Although, some horror stories still can be heard when we visit Lawang Sewu but the situation is not such frightening anymore. The renovation made has scraped out scary impression of this place.

Now, Lawang Sewu has been decided as an icon of Semarang City and many visitors visits this old building every year. The building has also been listed among 102 Semarang’s heritage that is protected and must be preserved.

One of the place you can not miss while you are in Semarang.

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