Black Portuguese Church / Sion Church
Amongst the numerous Jakarta attractions, you will find that the historical Black Portuguese Church holds a prominent place. Also known as Sion Church, the shrine has the distinction of being the oldest existing church in the Indonesian capital dating back to 1695.
Church of freedom
The church was constructed outside the walls of the old city as a place of worship for the people called the 'Black Portuguese' - the natives and Eurasians of mixed descent who were brought over as slaves from Portuguese trading stations like Malaya and India. The majority of these individuals were originally Catholics, but were granted their freedom with the requirement that they convert to the Dutch Reformed Church.
The church building is composed of plaster and brick and its exterior presents a subdued appearnace. The edifice has survived the test of time having been constructed on a foundation consisting of 10,000 sturdy logs.
The interior is imposing and attractive with ebony framing, granite flooring and copper chandeliers; the pipe organ originally installed at the church may still be seen. The ward like form of the interior with its simple façade and dome shaped windows is considered to represent typical Portuguese architecture.
The intricately designed furnishings of Sion Church were created by master craftsmen from Taiwan, while the magnificent and elaborate wall paintings are the work of Dutch artist and merchant Ewout Verhagen.