Home to a feminist hero

Sleepy Jepara is a provincial seaside town on the north coast of Central Java, famous for teak furniture production and the for being the home of Indonesia’s foremost feminist hero, Raden Ajeng Kartini.

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Furniture showrooms dominate the streets to the south of town, attracting buyers from all over the world and as you wander around, you’ll notice the ubiquitous statues, artworks and business names dedicated to Kartini. A small museum in town commemorates her life and achievements and is worth a quick visit.

She’s all over town. : Sally Arnold.
She’s all over town. Photo: Sally Arnold

The city lies roughly 75 kilometres northeast of Semarang and 185 kilometres north of Yogyakarta (140 kilometres north of Solo) and is wedged between the imposing Gunung Muria and the Java Sea. Hard to believe today, the regency was once an independent kingdom and a significant trading port, which in the 16th century sent large fleets to fight the Portuguese in Melaka. Jepara was instrumental in the spread of Islam in Java along with nearby Kudus and Demak, both which have interesting mosques, worth stopping by on your way or making a daytrip to visit.

Both the Dutch and Portuguese were stationed in the regency, and you can visit the ruins of a Dutch Fort (Benteng VOC) built in 1678, a short hike up a hill in the centre of town, however there’s not much to see as most of the stone has been plundered, but the high position offers good views over the area. Benteng Potugis, the Portuguese fort is a further 45 kilometres northeast ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 700 words.)

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