Lawang Sewu, Favorite Historical Tourist Destination in Semarang

Lawang Sewu, Favorite Historical Tourist Destination in Semarang

Lawang Sewu, translating to ‘Thousand Doors’ in Javanese, stands as a monumental piece of architectural and historical significance in Semarang, Central Java, Indonesia. Known for its grand design and hauntingly beautiful ambiance, Lawang Sewu is not just a favorite among history buffs but also among those drawn to its mysterious allure.

This article delves into the history, architecture, and cultural significance of Lawang Sewu, highlighting why it remains a favorite historical tourist destination in Semarang.

1. Historical Background

Constructed in 1904 during the Dutch colonial period, Lawang Sewu was originally designed as the headquarters of the Dutch East Indies Railway Company (Nederlandsch-Indische Spoorweg Maatschappij, or NIS).

Over the years, it has served various purposes, from an office building to a Japanese prison during World War II, each layer of its history adding to the building’s rich narrative. Post-independence, it has become a symbol of resistance and endurance, representing the tumultuous past and resilience of the Indonesian people.

2. Architectural Marvel

Designed by the Dutch architect C. Citroen, Lawang Sewu is renowned for its Neo-Gothic architectural style, characterized by its high ceilings, large windows, and intricate details. The building is named for its numerous doors and windows, which create an illusion of endless passageways.

Each section of Lawang Sewu showcases a meticulous attention to detail, from the stained glass decorations to the ornate tiles that line its floors, making it a magnificent example of colonial architecture.

3. A Haunting Beauty

Beyond its architectural and historical significance, Lawang Sewu is famed for its paranormal activity, which attracts thrill-seekers and paranormal enthusiasts from around the world.

It is said to be one of the most haunted locations in Indonesia, with numerous ghostly tales and legends, particularly relating to its use as a prison during the Japanese occupation. Guided night tours offer visitors a chance to explore this eerie aspect, adding a unique dimension to its attraction.

4. Lawang Sewu as a Cultural Icon

Lawang Sewu is not just a relic of the past but also a vibrant part of Semarang’s cultural scene. It frequently hosts art exhibitions, cultural performances, and public events that celebrate both its historical and architectural heritage.

These events serve to educate the public about the building’s significance and ensure that it remains a living part of the community rather than merely an artifact.

5. Tourism and Preservation

In recent years, efforts have been intensified to preserve Lawang Sewu’s structural integrity and historical value. Restoration projects have focused on maintaining its original features while ensuring the building meets modern safety standards.

For tourists, the site offers guided tours that provide insights into its history, architecture, and legends, making it a comprehensive cultural experience.

6. Accessibility and Visitor Experience

Lawang Sewu is strategically located in the heart of Semarang, making it easily accessible to visitors. Its proximity to other tourist attractions in the city makes it a convenient addition to travel itineraries.

The building’s administration has worked to improve visitor services, including the provision of informative plaques, a visitor center, and enhanced tour experiences that cater to both local and international tourists.


Lawang Sewu’s blend of historical depth, architectural beauty, and cultural significance makes it a standout destination in Semarang. It offers visitors a unique opportunity to step back in time and experience the historical narratives that have shaped Indonesia.

Whether you are drawn to its ghostly tales, interested in its colonial past, or simply in awe of its architectural grandeur, Semarang Old City promises a memorable visit filled with insight, education, and exploration.

As such, it continues to be a cherished historical site, preserving the legacy of Semarang’s rich past while embracing its vibrant present.