Monday, October 6, 2008
Jalan Braga: The History and The Art Market
Jalan Braga (Braga Street) is one of Bandung's oldest and most well-known streets. It runs north to south and is only a little more than a kilometer long.
Throughout its history, Jalan Braga has had a couple of different names. It was once called "Karrenweg" (Dutch) because this street used to be muddy during the rainy season and dusty during the dry season. It was also once called "Jalan Culik" (Kidnapper's Street) because it used to be lined up with huge trees and dark and scary at night, that an urban legend circulated that kidnappers were lurking here and would snatched any children who were still out and about after the sun set.
The name Jalan Braga (Dutch: Bragaweg), according to historian Haryoto Kunto, began to be used in the 1880's after the name of a stage theater group established here by Residence Assistant Pieter Sijthoff on June 18, 1882.
For your information, Braga is also the name of a city in Portugal, and although Portugal had had an earlier contact with the Sundanese people and kingdom before the Dutch did, there is no evidence that the street name can be directly linked to the name of the Portuguese city.
In the early 20th Century, Bandung's burgemeester (mayor) B. Coops (1917 - 1928) proposed that Braga be made as De meest Europeesche winkelstraat van Indie (European style market street). In this plan, only European style architecture were supposed to be built on Braga. Since then, Jalan Braga became a prestigious street with European look.
Many things have of course changed between then and now. However, anyone who walks this street now can still see the little European look of this place (or what remains of it).
The above photo is of a painting street-vendor and the paintings he is selling that line up part of Jalan Braga today. Braga also has some art shops and some cafes and old book stores.