Once upon a time jalan Braga Bandung was the most prestigious street in the city. Bandung got its nickname as the Parijs van Java due to Braga street.
Originally Braga Bandung was called Karrenweg meaning cart trail, since it was used by many two-wheels carts pulled by buffalos to transport coffee to the postal road. When Bandung transformed into a town with many rich Preanger Planters lived nearby, Braga street became the center of the development.
It was the first shopping arcade in Bandung with lots of art deco buildings to admire, plenty of high quality shops and a prestigious cinema.
Everything needed or wanted at that time, most likely could be bought at Braga Bandung. The first shop in the street was a firearm shop belonged to the Hellermann. There were several shops selling beautiful dresses as well as custom-made suits. There was a drama group that performed every weekend. A car showroom, a jewelry shop, a watch and clock shop, a few banks were all took part in Braga street.
People said that the golden days of Bandung as Parijs van Java was between 1920 and few years before World War II.
What about now?
Strolling around Braga street feels like taking a step back in time: a narrow street with many art-deco buildings from the early twentieth century. It is refreshing to see some of these old buildings had been renovated back to their old glory. Hopefully, the remaining buildings will also be renovated before they become ruin beyond repair.
Jalan Braga is the only street in Bandung that uses cobblestones instead of asphalt. Its pedestrian walk has also been renovated with new paving blocks and many park benches. If you look up, you will see the decorated lamp posts with tigers as the mascot.
Since Braga is one of the historical street, city tour buses called Bandros often pass through. Bandros is a shortened name for Bandung Tour on Bus.
Years ago prior to the era of shopping malls, shops in Braga street are well known for their high quality merchandises, especially the imported goods.
First and foremost: book stores. There were several book stores in this street. A couple of them (Scientific and Intervarsity if I'm not mistaken) carried university text books. I used to buy them here since the university did not have any student bookstore.
Next was Indira bookstore, where I bought my first Tintin comic books. The bookstore carried both the English and bahasa Indonesia versions.
Djawa bookstore carried many imported magazines from Germany and craft books from Japan. Although I couldn't read them, I loved looking at the pictures. Often we could follow the craft instructions without reading any Hiragana character written there.
Sadly, all of these bookstores are closed now. Djawa bookstore has been transformed into a coffee shop named Kopi Toko Djawa.
Another store that already closed was Elegance, a clothing store where we could find winter apparels.
On the contrary, we will see many paintings are displayed in front of several closed buildings. Although selling any merchandise on a pedestrian walk is prohibited in Bandung, the only exception is these painters. They have been in this street for who knows how many years. The paintings are large and beautiful, that look like part of the street decorations :)
Besides these painters, there are several shops that survive until now. Some of them are Concurrent Jewelry, Sin Sin Art Shop, and Kamal Photo Supply.
Sin Sin Art Shop is famous for its high quality souvenirs. Its merchandise come from all over Indonesia. Find out more about the souvenirs here...
Another famous shop here is Kamal Photo Supply, which sells various cameras and their accessories.
Although there are plenty of restaurants and cafes in this street, there are two classic restaurants that were the landmarks of Braga Bandung: Braga Permai and Sumber Hidangan.
When Braga Permai first opened in 1918, the name was Maison Bogerijen, which was founded by L Van Bogerijen. The good news is that it still maintains its menu and recipe! It seems over the years more than plenty people like this restaurant, presently it has expanded into the adjacent building. The restaurant even starts early, it serves breakfast daily at 6.30am.
Some people mentioned that Sumber Hidangan was first opened in 1929 as Het Snoephuis. It was more of a bakery than a restaurant. It offers various kind of old-time breads, cookies, and home made ice cream. The best part is the recipes have never been changed. Unfortunately, the shop has never been renovated, it looks very gloomy. I really hope the owner revitalize it soon, because it's really one of a kind bakery. I believe with a little bit of touch up it will return to its former glory. Braga street will not be the same without Sumber Hidangan!
Besides of the old timers, there are new additions to jalan Braga Bandung. They are Braga City Walk and the hotels.
I am not sure what Braga City Walk is, I don't think it is a shopping mall because only few shops here, but it has plenty of restaurants, a cinema, a karaoke, a gym and a hotel. One thing for sure, it easier to find parking space in the basements here than on Braga street.
Due to the historical and relaxed ambience of Braga street, many visitors love to stay in this area. Over the years, there are several hotels opened here, all of them are chained hotels both local and international.
Having completed your day in jalan Braga Bandung, what would be next in your list? Perhaps exploring highlands such as Puncak and Garut, or have fun in the beach?