"Little town Salatiga" Salatiga by theo1006
Salatiga Travel Guide: 80 reviews and 342 photos
Salatiga is a small town in Central Java, situated halfway between the cities of Semarang and Surakarta (Solo) at the foot of Merbabu mountain. The town lies at an altitude of 550 to 600 m above sea-level, therefore its climate is less hot than that of both bigger cities.
According to the 2004 census Salatiga counts around 150.000 inhabitants. Of it’s 60 square kms two-thirds is hilly terrain and only ten percent is level. Therefore becak drivers have a hard time in Salatiga, and they only appeared here when they were ousted from Jakarta during Suharto’s reign.
Salatiga is best known for its university, Universitas Kristen Satya Wacana, founded in 1956 and now having an enrollment of over 10.000. The university offers intensive Indonesian language courses for foreigners; its Department of Performing Arts brings several FREE music performances every year.
There are several other educational institutions, among which an International School, so that Salatiga is seen as an ‘education town’. Many of its inhabitants make a living out of letting rooms to students. Salatiga is also called a ‘retirement town’, a good place to retire to from active life in Jakarta or another big city. A number of expats live in Salatiga, among them us, Theo and Helen.
The Dutch founded many plantations around Salatiga, mainly of coffee and rubber. See Kampoeng Kopi Banaran and How latex is won respectively. After independence they have gone through ups and downs, but recently they are doing well again, catering also for wisata agro or agricultural tourism. See e.g. Tlogo and Salib Putih accommodation tips.
But Salatiga has also entered the industrial era. The town counts two textile factories, Damatex and Timatex. And since 2005 a modern foodstuff processing plant, allied to the Dutch brand Frisian Flag, has been operational on the site of a former diary factory.
In 1995 it was decided to canonize July 24th, AD 750, as the date Salatiga was founded. This is based on an inscription in stone, Prasasti Plumpungan, dated back to that day, which may be admired by visitors.
When the Dutch arrived in Central Java, they soon discovered the strategic value of Salatiga, half way between Semarang harbour and the Solo sultanate. The VOC (United East Indian Company) built a fort and garrisoned a detachment at Salatiga.
In the 19th century Salatiga became a center of coffee and rubber plantations. Because of that the number of Dutch people living in Salatiga rose to over 2000 in 1905. In 1917 the colonial government gave Salatiga the status of an independent town. More and more Dutch came to live here and Salatiga was then considered ‘the most beautiful town of Central Java’.
Salatiga has lost some of its beauty due to its rising number of inhabitants. Many colonial buildings have been demolished or are in poor repair. Traffic has become a nuisance and green sidewalks have made place for paved ones. But the local government makes a commendable effort to keep the town clean, green and livable. It was concluded that Salatiga was too small to be viable with its only 18 km2 mostly built-up area, therefore in 1992 the town was allowed to annex several villages from the surrounding kabupaten (regencies), tripling its area.
Salatiga is an excellent base for discovering Central Java. Close enough to the big cities Semarang, Solo and Yogyakarta for a daytrip. But less hot than these at Salatiga's higher altitude. There is a choice of budget and luxury hotels, as well as restaurants.
Typical travel times to popular destinations:
- Semarang: one hour
- Ambarawa (Railway Museum): half an hour
- Bandungan (Gedong Songo temples): 50 minutes
- Kopeng (starting point for climb of Merbabu mountain): 30 minutes
- Ketep Pass between Merbabu and Merapi: 50 minutes
- Selo (starting point for climb of Merapi mountain): one hour
- Solo (Surakarta): 75 minutes
- Yogyakarta, Prambanan, Borobudur: two hours
- Dieng plateau: four hours
- Jepara: 2.5 hours
- Sarangan (Lawu mountain): 2.5 hours
Websites about Salatiga:
City government website (Indonesian language)
Website by Ed Vos (Dutch language)
- Pros:Ideal climate and strategic location.
- Cons:More crowded than Salatiga used to be.
- In a nutshell:A little town with great facilities.
Another budget option in the city is the Guesthouse of Satya Wacana Christian University (UKSW). It is centrally located... more travel advice
Restaurants in Salatiga are proliferating, everyone wants to cash in on the students who don't cook for themselves. So... more travel advice
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