The Grand Mosque and the Old Banten Complex

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Founded in 16th Century, the Banten Sultanate was once a thriving Islamic kingdom and one of the most prominent trading centers in Southeast Asia. In its heydays, merchants from China, India, Turkey, England, Portugal and the Netherlands were frequent visitors to the Banten harbor. Spices, silk, Chinese ceramics, gold, jewelry and other Asian goods attracted European merchants. Banten was then a pioneer in international trade and was also known as an education center for Islamic studies.


The seat of power was centered at the port city on the northwest coast of Java at the mouth of the Cibanten River. The royal city of Banten was founded on the delta, formed by the two arms of the river. The royal palace surrounded by residences of the principal minister of state, was built on the south side of the royal square with the grand mosque on its west.


Today, the once great sultanate may just be pages in history, as Banten evolved into a province located  west of West Java and Jakarta. However remnants of its glorious past still radiate at the site of the old capital known today as the Old Banten Complex. Centered at the Grand Mosque that still stands gallantly and serves its religious function, the site is situated about 10km north of Serang, capital city of Banten Province.


Masjid Agung Banten or the Grand Mosque of Banten is one of the oldest and historical mosques in Indonesia. The Mosque was built in the reign of Sultan Maulana Hasanudin (1552-1570), the first Sultan of Banten. The mosque features unique influences from Javanese , Western, and Chinese architecture.  The stepped roof, for example, is typical of Javanese mosques, although Chinese pagodas share the multilevel structure as well. Consisting of 5 layers, the roof structure denotes the 5 pillars of Islam.


The main entrance of the mosque has six doors which symbolizes the 6 pillars of faith, important principals in Islam. All of these main doors are made relatively short in height to illustrate that one needs to humble oneself when entering the House ofGod.  While the total number of 24 supporting columns inside the mosque depict the 24 hours we have in a day.


Towering over the Mosque is an eight-sided minaret rising almost 80 feet above the ground. The top of the minaret is accessible by 83 steps, providing visitors with a view of the nearby structures and the sea whjich lies about a mile to the west. Given its height, the minaret was also used as a lookout tower for seaborne raiders and pirates, aside from performing the  daily adzhan or call to prayer.


Near the mosque are a number of Royal tombs. These are the final resting place of a number of Sultans of Banten, including  Sultan Maulana Hasanuddin and his queen; Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa; Sultan Abu Nashr Abdul Qahar; Sultan Maulana Muhammad; Sultan Zainul Abidin;  and other royal families.


Next to the grand mosque, a set of orange brick perimeter walls are all that remain of the grand Surosowan Palace, once the seat of power of the Banten Sultanate. The ruins of the palace cover about 3.5 hectares. The perimeter walls are made of coral and red brick, and are 16 feet thick, enough to frustrate most cannons during its time. To strengthen the walls, the fourth Sultan Ageng Tirtayasa hired a Dutch engineer to add bastions at each corner of the citadel. The palace was attacked by Dutch forces in 1680 and was later demolished in 1813 since the last Sultan, Sultan Rafiudin refused to bow to Dutch rule.


The other palace in the complex is the Kaibon Palace that was built for Queen Aisyah , mother of the 21st Sultan of Banten, Sultan Syaifudin who was only 5 years old when he was handed the throne. Along with Surosowan Palace, the Kaibon Palacealso destroyed by the Dutch in 1832 at the end of the Banten Sultanate era. However, unlike the Surosowan Palace , there are still some structures standing such as the main gates, and a room which is believed to be the quarters of Queen Aisyah.


To learn more about the history of the Banten Sultanate, there is also the Old Banten Museum which is located between the Grand Mosque and the Surosowan Palace. The museum houses precious heritage of the history of Banten. The museum features various collections including archeological artifacts, numismatics, ethnographic, ceramics, and more. Among the most valuable collection is the Ki Amuk Cannon which is said to have been given as support from the Ottoman empire in Turkey. The cannon is said to have a twin which is the Ki Jagur Cannon which is currently placed at the Fatahilah Museum in Kota Tua, the Old Batavia Complex in Jakarta.


Featuring historical monuments and remnants of its glorious past, the Old Banten complex is an important site that preserves the history of the Sultanate of Banten. The Grand Mosque which was once the center of Islamic studies still attracts many pilgrims today to honor their previous leaders and its past history.


To Eat, To Stay, To Do

There are a number of Hotels and modest inns you can find in the city of Serang. Among these are:

Anugrah HotelJl. SA. Tirtayasa No.160 SerangPhone : +62 254 200783Anthony VillaJl. Raya ulakan Cinangka SerangPhone : +62 254 650503Avi Redita VillaJl .Raya Cinangka Anyer, SerangPhone : +62 254 200761Anyer CottageJl. Raya Karang Bolong Anyer SerangPhone : +62 254 601292Abadi HotelJl. Jend Sudirman No. 36 SerangPhone : +62 254 200641Bukit Pasau ResortJl. Raya Anyer Labuan KM No.149 - SerangPhone : +62 254 650089Bandulu Beach ResortJl. Raya Bandulu Anyer SerangPhone : +62 254 601879Bukit Biru ResortJl. Raya Karang Bolong Cinangka SerangPhone : +62 254 650623Bintang Semesta HotelJl. Raya Kitapa 65 SerangPhone : +62 254 200193Cjs Hide Way CottageJl. Raya Karang Bolong Cinangka SerangPhone : +62 254 650485Hikmah HotelJl. KH Wasid No. 21 SerangPhone : +62 254 201509Jayakarta HotelJl. Raya karang Bolong KM 17/135 AnyerPhone : +62 254 601781 - 230073Kalimaya ResortJl. Raya Cikoneng Anyer SerangPhone : +62 254 601226, 601266Karang Sono VillaJl. Raya Karang Bolong KM 142 SerangPhone : +62 254 650485Karang Bolong VillaJl. Raya Cinangka- SerangPhone : +62 254 650152Kasih Sayang HotelJl. SA Tirtayasa 72 Serangv+62 254 205840Lalita CottageJl. Raya Labuan Cinangka 142.5 AnyerPhone : +62 254 650171Marina VillaJl. Jl. Raya Cikoneng KM 20 Anyer SerangPhone : +62 254 601282, 601288Mambruk HotelJl. Raya Karang Bolong PO BOX 10 AnyerPhone : +62 254 601602Mahadria HotelJl. Ki Mas jong No. 12 SerangPhone : +62 254 200527Mandalika Wahana WisataJl. Raya Cikoneng Anyer SerangPhone : +62 254 601678Mitrasono HotelJl. Raya Kramatwatu 1 SerangPhone : +62 254 601781 - 230073Nuansa Bali HotelJl. Raya Karang Bolong KM.133,5 AnyerPhone : +62 254 602236Nuansa Bali Beach HotelJl. Raya Cikoneng AnyerPhone : +62 254 602236Patra Anyer Beach Hotel Jl. Bandulu PO BOX 01 Anyer SerangPhone : +62 254 602700PONDOK Tubagus RESORTJl. Raya Sirih Bandulu Anyer - SerangPhone : +62 254 601776Pondok Sanghyang ResortJl. Raya Cikoneng Anyer - SerangPhone : +62 254 604835 - 601910Puri Kosambi ResortJl. Raya Anyer SerangPhone : +62 254 650180Pondok Lalita CottageJl. Raya Labuan Cinangka KM 142,5 SerangPhone : +62 254 650171Puri Retno CottageJl. Raya Karang Bolong Cinangka SerangPhone : +62 254 650192

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At the Old Banten Museum you can take an archeological tour which is offered for around IDR150,000-IDR200,000 for amaximum of 10 persons. You are not just taken to explore the entire complex, you will also be taught to excavate and document discovered artifacts.

Getting There and Around

Get There

Located in the city of Serang, the capital of Banten Province, the Old Banten Complex can be reached by a little over 2 hours drive from the capital city of Jakarta. From  Jakarta’s main toll road you can exit at the East Serang ramp, take a right turn, and roughly 11 Km you will reach the Old Banten Complex.