Built in 1888, Istana Maimun Palace is one of the two Medan landmarks considered to be part of the legacy of Deli Sultan Makmun Al Rasyid Perkasa Alamsyah, with the other building known as the Great Mosque. Commonly known as Maimoon or Maimun Palace, it has become a top tourist destination not only for its age but also because of the remarkable ancient architecture and interior design, combining the styles of Islam, Italian, Indian and Spanish with an added Malayan cultural element.
The Istana Palace is an iconic part of Indonesia’s traditional heritage. Located in Aur Administrative Unit, Medan Baru Sub Regency, nearly 3 kilometers from Polonia Airport, it covers 2,772 square meters and consists of three parts – the main building, the left and the right building. The palace consists of two storey supported by 43 wooden masks shaped like horseshoes and ship’s keel and 82 stone posts. It has domes with pyramid-shaped roofing made of copper and roof shingles. Architecturally, the three buildings have pyramid-shaped roofs and almost all have overlapping layers.
Entering the gate, one immediately notices that it is shaped like a ship’s keel, full of floral and geometric designs. One of the rooms is called ‘Balairung’, which means the royal audience hall, is located inside the main building that covers 412 sq.m. This is also the room used for the coronation ceremony of the Deli Sultan. Today, the hall is used for appointing kings and for other traditional events. Along its marble ladder corridor, you can head up to the upper floor of the main building. There are two porches on the left and right sections called pavilions. The throne of Sultan, adorned with different colors, is inside a quadrangle dome with pointed curves on the sides. The Royal Audience Hall is illuminated with crystal lights from Europe and decorated with oil paintings on the floral wall. The ceiling is adorned with a rich decorative motif, resembling that seen on the chromes that are placed inside the quadrangular and octagonal rooms. Inside these rooms, you can also observe the printings and pictures of the past Deli Sultans.
Painted in yellow symbolizing Malay culture, the palace consists of 40 rooms, with 20 rooms on the top floor, the Sultan throne and 20 rooms at the ground floor excluding the cellar, the four bathrooms, kitchen and the prison rooms downstairs. The upper floor has 12 small rooms, two large rooms for ceremonial events and 8 rooms as storage for equipments. On the ground floor are 10 small rooms that include a kitchen, office, prison, warehouse and bathrooms. On the right side, fronting the palace is the Batak Karo house, for which the ‘Cannon Stub’ is stored. This Cannon is known as a sacred item by most people and often related to the legend of Putri Hijau. Nearly 10 meters from the palace is a stage that looks like altar. It is used as a foundation of the two horse figures that function as waterspouts.
Due to the Deli Sultan’s fascination of foreign architecture, you can clearly see its influence in the interior and exterior designs of Istana Maimun Palace. Dutch influence reflects in the form of wide and high windows and doors. Islamic influence appears on the roof of the arch, which is often seen in Middle East, Turkey and India. Surprisingly, it boasts a unique blend of West and East influences without losing the Malay heritage that appears on the palace walls made from wood.
Unfortunately, Istana Maimun Palace has started to appear less maintained, with some appearing broken glasses. A few parts of the roof are also leaking during torrential rain. However, the overall sophisticated aura of this century-old building continues to invite more and more pilgrims and visitors to Medan.