The 10 Most Beautiful Churches in Indonesia
Immanuel Church in Jakarta, Indonesia | © Gunawan Kartapranata / WikiCommons
To say Indonesia is just the largest Muslim population would be an oversimplification. The nation is as diverse as it gets, with different religions and hundreds of ethnicities all dynamically interacting with one another. From neo-gothic buildings to traditional-style ones, discover the country’s most beautiful churches.
As the oldest church in Central Java, this Protestant church was built in 1753 and until now remains a landmark of Semarang’s Old Town. The majestic bronze dome is unmissable even amid other stunning colonial buildings
in the vicinity. In fact, the name blenduk
means ‘dome’ in the local dialect. This church oozes European-style grandness with stunning portico, stained glass, and elegant all-white exterior.
Building, Cathedral, Museum
Built with the neo-gothic style typical to the time of construction in 1901, this cathedral looks more like the ones you’ll encounter in Europe than at the heart of the world’s largest Muslim nation. The façade mimics natural stone construction with towering spires and interior adorned with statues and symbolic objects. This church also serves as a heritage site
and destination, as one of its three main spires houses a museum showcasing relics of Catholic rituals.
In a corner of Hindu-majority Bali, a Catholic village is alive and bustling with their own traditions and ceremonies. But even this locale isn’t sterile from the Balinese Hindu influence, but is instead acculturated neatly into a fascinating community. Palasari Church is a product of this unique community of Balinese Catholic. The architecture is a mishmash between gothic and traditional Balinese. Even the interior and relics from statues, altar, cross, and carvings all reflect this beautiful fusion. Local church members are also in the habit of attending church in traditional Balinese attire, similar to the one you’ll see sported by Balinese Hindu in their own religious ceremonies.
Gereja Maria Annai Velangkanni
At a glance, this Catholic church in Medan seems very much like an Indian Hindu temple. It has tiered roofs and Mughal-style building structure. But once you look closely, you’ll spot the typical Catholic adornments like the cross and statues of the saints. The interior is even more churchy with more ornaments, altar, and benches for the congregation. This fusion church is a product of a thoughtful project dedicated to the Tamil-Catholic community in the region, but anyone can worship or even visit this remarkable building.
Kepanjen Catholic Church
The brick wall exterior distinguishes this church from any other building in the neighbourhood, despite being located near Surabaya’s old town
area. Its beautiful rose window, pointed arch, and overall lofty grandness nicely reflect the neo-gothic popular in Europe during the time of construction. It also has ornate stained glass that beautifully cast colourful shadows from the sunlight. Well-crafted statues and carvings can also be found around the building.
GPIB Immanuel Jakarta
In addition to being a prominent place of worship, this church at the heart of Jakarta is also a historical landmark, having been built during the colonial era in 1834. Moreover, this Protestant church is an architectural feat with monumental pillars and exquisite Corinth-style carvings, a stunning circular layout covered with marble tiles. Inside the effortlessly elegant exterior sits an antique pipe organ from 1843 that continues to be used for church services today.
At first sight, this church in Kediri, East Java, may not look like much. But the thoughtful symbolism and philosophy at the foundation of this building is mind-blowing. The architecture is designed to agree with Javanese style the locals are used to, with earthy elements and humble nature. But the church is packed with rich symbols of biblical stories and teachings, from beautiful statues to carvings on the corner bars. The boat-like roof represents Noah’s Ark, as if testifying The Almighty’s deliverance to everyone who sees it. It’s safe to say that this church is the architectural version of the gospel.
Santo Fransiskus Assisi Church
Church meets culture at this iconic house of worship in Berastagi, a charming highlands town in North Sumatra. Built according to the Karo community’s customs and traditions, this church looks more like a traditional hall than a place to attend Sunday mass. The walls are painted with tribal patterns and symbols unique to the culture, although you can spot some Christianity symbols if you really look. This church also serves as a heritage site, as fewer people are building their houses according to the customs anymore.
St. Joseph Cathedral
Located in the Kalimantan (Borneo) city of Pontianak, this cathedral reflects the multi-ethnicity of the locale. Alongside the Chinese ornaments are tribal Dayak details and carvings, all inside a gothic European-style building. The interior is only as glorious as the façade, with golden and silvery altar nuance, towering pillars and statues, also exquisite, colourful stained glass. Established in 2014, this church building is relatively new, built in place of the old cathedral that has been consumed by time.
GPIB Immanuel Kediri
Popular by the name ‘Gereja Merah’ or ‘the red church’, this building catches attention with the striking colour and grandness. This church was built during the colonial era, but only in 1996 painted red, as per the priest’s instruction. Other than the colour, other elements of the architecture remain the same, a simpler take on neo-gothic style filled with antique relics and furniture inside. Among centuries-old heritage housed by this church is the 1867 copy of the gospel in Dutch.