Medan is not a pretty city. Let’s get that straight from the start. It’s loud, crowded and sometimes dirty. A typical Asian city with crazy traffic, street stalls and a lack of pavements. However, it also has its beautiful moments, which we have summarised in this article on the most beautiful sights in Medan.
The city is a cultural melting pot – Chinese, Indians, Malaysians and of course Indonesians live here. The city also offers an impressive selection of historical and architectural buildings. Here are some of the top sights in Medan that you should not miss when visiting.
1. Tjong A Fie Mansion: A historic gem
The Tjong A Fie Mansion is a stunning example of colonial architecture and a real gem in Medan. This mansion was built in the 19th century by Tjong A Fie, a wealthy Chinese-Indonesian businessman. The magnificent mansion is richly decorated and offers an insight into the history of the region. Admission 35,000 IDR.
2. Vihara Gunung Timur Tempel: A spiritual experience
Immerse yourself in the spiritual atmosphere of the Vihara Gunung Timur temple. This Buddhist temple is a place of tranquillity and reflection, surrounded by lush nature. The ornate carvings and peaceful surroundings make this place a must-visit for those seeking inner contemplation.
3. Mariamman Temple and the Indian Quarter: cultural diversity
The Indian quarter of Medan is home to the colourful Mariamman Temple, a Hindu temple that reflects the cultural diversity of the city. Here you can stroll through the alleyways and admire the impressive architecture of the temple, which is dedicated to the goddess Mariamman. Fans of Indian cuisine will also find good restaurants here for aloo gobi, tikka masala or naan.
4. Graha Bunda Maria Annai Velangkanni: A sacred place
This is probably the most unusual church you have ever seen. Yes, you read that right: It’s a church. This Catholic place of pilgrimage is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and impresses with its Indian architecture. The shrine is two storeys high and has a small seven-storey tower in the Indonesian style.
In the late 19th century, some French and Dutch plantation companies brought migrant labourers from India to their plantations in the Deli Serdang area on the outskirts of Medan. Among these Indians were several Catholic families who, over time, were given various places of worship where services were held in Tamil. The Graha Maria Annai Velangkanni was officially consecrated on 1 October 2005.
5. Istana Maimun Palast: Residence of the Sultan
The Istana Maimun Palace is an imposing testimony to the past sultans of Sumatra. With its striking yellow façade and majestic gates, the palace offers an insight into the royal history of Medan. The palace was built by Sultan Ma’mun Al Rashid Perkasa Alamyah from 1887-1891 and comprises a total of 30 rooms. The palace has become a popular tourist destination in the city, not only because of its status as a historical heritage site, but also because of its unique interior design with Islamic and Indian elements as well as Spanish and Italian furniture. The family of the last sultan still lives in parts of the palace. Unfortunately, many souvenir shops await the visitor inside, which slightly spoils the atmosphere.
6. Masjid Raya Al-Mashun: Architectural splendour
This impressive mosque is not only a spiritual place, but also an architectural masterpiece. The Masjid Raya Al-Mashun impresses with its domes, minaret and ornate decorations. Visitors of all faiths are invited to experience the beauty of this sacred place. Women must cover their heads. A donation is requested.
7. Old post office building: historical charm
This historic building reflects the charm of times gone by and is a great place to gain an insight into the development of the city.
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