The Red Shop – well known as ‘Toko Merah’ – always become my very first place to start exploring around Jakarta Old Town (Kota Tua). Unfortunately, I found that not many local guide recommend Toko Merah Jakarta as an interesting place to visit when run a city tour Jakarta.
The fact is if I compare Toko Merah Jakarta with another tourist attraction place around Jakarta Old Town, Toko Merah might be put last on the list of visiting place choices. Less glamour, less attraction, no English speaking tour guide, and it is just a building, with no slide show, no history dioramas, no printed story, nothing.
However, nothingness is not bad at all.
I realize that Toko Merah Jakarta offers us the silence, so we can absorb old vibe better than any place around.
The building keeper told me that Toko Merah Jakarta was built in 1730 as the residence of the Governor-General of the Dutch East Indies Gustaaf Willem baron van Imhoff. Afterwards, the ownership of this building changed several times, and the building function is changed as followed. Hotel, Bank, Hospital, Warehouse, and when Toko Merah Jakarta owned by a Kapitein der Chinezen of Batavia, Oey Liauw Kong in 1851, it became a shop and private residence.
The Chinese Kapitein decorated the building, painted brick walls with red color, so it was known as Toko Merah. When he had decorated with his personal taste, he did not change the original building structure . Toko Merah Jakarta had kept Dutch building structure, with huge windows, double tall doors, high ceilings, hanging lamps, et cetera. So, the Chinese decoration blend with Dutch architecture until now. Quite interesting, right?
So, when you do a city tour Jakarta in Jakarta Old Town area, make sure you put Toko Merah Jakarta on your visit list. You need to pay IDR 10 k for one person as an entrance ticket. Small money for a better understanding of Old Jakarta (Batavia) sounds remarkable, isn’t it?