Gajah Mada Street, Heritage Area of Denpasar City

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View of Jalan Gajah Mada Denpasar before 1990s.
View of Jalan Gajah Mada Denpasar before 1990s. (Photo: Repro Denfes)
  • DOWNTOWN of Denpasar, Jalan Gajah Mada area, retains important history on past commercial activities
  • Now, it is developed into Denpasar City Heritage promoted as one of the key tourist attractions in Denpasar

The tourist area of ​​Jalan Gajah Mada Denpasar as a heritage area in the city of Denpasar has a long history. The area, which is the largest commercial and business center, is home to a majority of ethnic Chinese. The heritage area of ​​Jalan Gajah Mada is the old town of Denpasar.

As the development of the city of Denpasar that leads to the concept of urban cities, the arrangement and development of the area gives a new face to the city of Denpasar, especially in the area of ​​Jalan Gajah Mada. There is concern that the old buildings dominating along the Jalan Gajah Mada area will be eroded by the growth of the region.

Efforts are made to maintain this heritage area. It is meant to protect the old city civilization from sporadic developments in the development of big cities, especially the city of Denpasar. Buildings categorized as heritage buildings in the Gajah Mada area have aesthetic value from the exterior and interior and they need to be preserved.

The heritage area of ​​Jalan Gajah Mada Denpasar represents the old city of Denpasar today. This area consists of old buildings functioned as shops. The ranks of shops in the region illustrate the triumph of the region as the largest trade center in Denpasar City to date. The symbol of the marker as a heritage area was installed at the main entrance (from the west) to the area in early December 2008.

It gives an impression related to the historical value of the region. Such historical value characterizes the region’s uniqueness and influences the physical development of the city in general. Past civilization of the city is the main attraction. Then, tourism causes the paradigm of thinking of people and tourists to change.

Heritage is divided into two groups, namely intangible heritage and tangible heritage (World Heritage Committee). Intangible heritage is a heritage that is untouchable because it is not an tangible object such as language, ritual, music and dance. Meanwhile, the tangible heritage is a touchable object like a building.

The 800 meters long and 14 meters wide stretch of the road from the west end on Jalan Thamrin to the east of the Catur Muka statue is designated as an area known as the Jalan Gajah Mada Heritage Area.

Before being designated as a heritage area, Jalan Gajah Mada was initially functioned as a provincial road. After the development of Denpasar City, this area was transformed into a city road. Jalan Gajah Mada is the main access to enter the Denpasar City, making this region an important role.

From the historical and economic aspects, the area of ​​Jalan Gajah Mada Denpasar can be concluded as an old city area. This area is still functioned as a trade center and given the label as “Gajah Mada Chinatown”. The Chinatown area is synonymous with the dominance of the ethnic Chinese community, the majority of which work as traders. Apart from Chinese, there are also several other ethnic groups such as Arabs and Indians in addition to local Balinese citizens.

As the center of trade and heritage, Jalan Gajah Mada has the main characteristics of old buildings with traditional Balinese architecture. Rows of the old buildings function as shops. Along Jalan Gajah Mada, Jalan Sulawesi, some on Jalan Kartini, we can still see uniform shop buildings.

The long story of Jalan Gajah Mada as the oldest Chinatown symbol makes it the center of trade downtown of Denpasar, whose existence has been maintained until these days. Historical records prove that from the time of the kingdom until the Dutch colonial ruled this region had an important role.

This area plays an important role in supplying the basic needs of the citizens of Denpasar and surrounding areas. Such important role of the past was then appreciated by the government of Denpasar City by establishing it as a heritage area.

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