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Banda Aceh, or Kutaraja, the old name, is capital of province of D.I. Aceh. It is situated about 604 km from Medan. It is easy to come to Aceh, only 2.5 hours by airplane from Jakarta, 45 minutes from Medan. Medan and Banda Aceh are conected by frequent and very comfortable busses that take 8-9 hours (non stop) for over nighttrip up to Banda Aceh. The population consists about 200,000 inhabitants. Banda Aceh has been the administrative, religgious, commercial and educational center for the region since ages. The historical remnant are plenty and great interest. The surrounding nature offers the visitor great views and nice beaches. Banda Aceh is the stepping stone for both Pulau Weh with Sabang, and for Lhok Nga, but is pity to just pass through without taking part in all that the town and it is vicinity offers.

The Grand Mosque

The most dominating feature of Banda Aceh is may be its beautiful Mosque, the Mesjid Baiturrahman (The Grand Mosque). It is one of the architectural landmark of Indonesia and dominates the center of the town. The original Mosque was built during region of Sultan Alaidin Mahmudsyah I who ruled between the years 1234 and 1267. It was enlarged by Sultan Iskandar Muda in Beginning of the 17th century. In 1873 the Mosque was destroyed by fire during a Dutch attack. The Dutch general Köhler was killed during this attack and a small monument is just outside the main etrance the Mosque. The Dutch rebuilt the Mosque as a compensation and it was completed in 1881. The Mosque had then one kubah (dome). In 1936 two kubahs and in 1967 it was enlarged once again and now it has total of five kubahs. A few years ago there was enlargement once again. It has today seven kubahs and five minarets on the main building and a new tall minaret standing in front the Mosque . The enlargement was badly needed. Even now afterward, there not enough room inside for all the Friday prayers that find the Baiturrahman Mosque such as serene and special place to pray in. The capacity is 7500 people. The Mosque is richly ornamented with onion-shaped kubahs and has two original minarets. The Mosque is open to visitors except during prayers times. Sloopy and dirty dressing is nor allowed and women have to cover their heads with a shawl. Show respect and get impressed. Report to the guard post. The Minarest has elevator an open to the public between 16.00 and 18.00 WIB (Indonesian times).

Museum Aceh

This Museum gives a good overall view of the history and culture in Aceh. The library contains 10000 books. A traditional Acehnese house is the center piece of the museum. It was built in 1914 by the Dutch Governor Van Swart. Another of the many interesting exhibits is the"Cakra Donya". A 1 m tall and 1 m wide bell made in year 1400 and presented to Aceh as a gift from Chinese Emperor. An inscription on the bell says " Sing Fang Niat Toeng Juut Kat Tjo " which translates into the curious "Sultan Sing Fang, which had been completed in the 12'th moth, the 5'th year". It used to hang in big tree and functioned as a way to call locals to the palace for important information. It was also used once on Iskandar Muda's ship "Cakra Donya" in a battle with Portuguse in Melacca. The Dutch later ordered the bell to be taken down as they worried the tree would break. As the bell had a reputation to be a home of ghosts, Chinesse laborers where used. They had however to intoxicate themselves with arrak in order to dare take it down! After the bell had been taken down to the ground Banda Aceh had severe flood. The Dutch governor H.N.A. Swart was asked to put it up again, but refused. Next year there was a new flood and a new request. This time the governor had a small building made and the bell hung up. Banda Aceh was saved ! Jl. Sultan Alaudin Mahmudsyah.

Sultan Iskandar Muda's grave

Iskandar Muda was born 1593. He was brought up by his grand father, Sultan Saidil Mukammil and the head protocol, Keumala Malahayati, who later formed the armada of widows. Sultan Iskkandar Muda ruled between 1607 and 1636. The original grave was located across the small river in Kandang XII, and was destroyed by Dutch. The present grave next to museum is a duplicate. Next to this grave are some other graves, such as of his daughter Sri Ratu Safiatuddin, who ruled between 1641 and 1675. Also the two following Queens are buried here and posibly also Putri Pahang, the Malaysian wife of Iskandar Muda.


Pendopo is the governor's residence built by the Dutch in 1880. It's architecture and grandness conveys a felling of the old colonial days. It is just ten minutes walk from the Grand Mosque. Not open to the public but from the outside the reception hall can be seen.

Pinto Khop

Pinto Khop was once a gate at the Sultan palace towards the large former Taman Gairah. Around it is today Taman Putre Phang, one of several town parks in Banda Aceh.

Taman Sari Gunongan

Taman Sari is a park with two building. One is Gunongan which was built by Sultan Iskandar Muda in early 1700's on the request of his homesick wife, Putri Pahang, from Malaysia. Gunongan is supposed to resemble a mountain in Malaysia and was used for recreational purposes and to change clothes after swimming in river. The architecture has influences from Hinduism even though it was built during the Muslem kingdom of Aceh Darussalam. There is a gate that leads up to the top. It was once located in a huge beautiful park, by name Taman Gairah. The other building, called Kandang Gunongan, is grave of Sultan Iskandar Thani, built by his wife, the daughter of Iskandar Muda, Sri Ratu Safiatuddin. Iskandar Thani was favored by Sultan Iskandar Muda and was given his daughter as wife and also inherited the sultanate. It is centarlly located, not far from Kerkhof.

Kerkhof Peucut

A 30,000 sq. m big grave yard in central Banda Aceh where 2,200 Dutch soldier rest peacefully. It was opened in 1880. They were killed during the Acehnese war. Thei names and place where they meet their fate can be read at the gateway. The most famous grave is may be the one of General Köhler who was killed during attack on the Grand Mosque. His grave was moved here from Jakarta in 1978. Two other Dutch Generals are also buried here, General Van Aken and General Van der Heyden. The latter killed in Lamnyong near Darussalam. There is a monument at that location. There is not one single woman buried here. The Dutch women had a hard live during the war, but did not actively take part, as their Acehnese counterparts did. The only Acehnese grave is supposed to be the grave of the only son of Sultan Iskandar Muda, the prince Phoe Teu Coet. He was sentenced to death of major offense.

The RI 001 Monument

This is a Douglas DC-3 air plane turned into a monument to commemorate the Acehnese effort in helping freeing Indonesia from it's colonial masters. PresidentSukarno requested the help in 1948 at a visit to Banda Aceh He stayed in Hotel Atjeh and one of famous statement was :" If you do not have enough sense of belonging to buy a plane, such as this miniature, I will not eat". Within short time the Acehnese managed to gather 20 kg of gold to a value 120000 Malay Dollar. The Plane was used to break blockade that Dutch tried to impose in other parts of the Republic. For this reason it was registered in Burma. It later became the first plane in the fleet of national flag carrier of Garuda. The monument is in field not far from the town center.

Syiah Kuala Grave

Syiah Kuala (or Al Waliyul Mulki Haji Syech 'Abdurrauf Bin Ali Alfansuri) was may be the greatest of all Moslem teacher in Aceh. After 15 years of studying Islam in Mecca, he dedicated most of his life to science and society. He produced many book of Islam, social studies and science and taught students for all over archipelago. During the Aceh Darussalam Kingdom he had autority to organize religious life. From those days originates the Acehnese idiom "The customs of the country is in the hands of Sultan, but laws concerning religion must be in accordance with interpretation of Syiah Kuala". Syiah Kuala was born in Singkil Aceh Selatan/South Aceh, in 1620 and passed away in Banda Aceh 1693. As a curiosity, the people in Singkil believe that he moved from his grave in Banda Aceh to grave in Singkil, all by himself. The grave is located 3 km to east of the town center on the sea shore. The beach is beautiful.

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