Over the last 20 years Denpasar has seen an incredible growth, and has taken over for Singaraja as the capital of Bali. The city used to be the capital of Badung, but became in 1992 together with Sanur, Benoa harbor and Pulau Seringan a separate district

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. The name means something like “close to the market”, and the town’s main market, Pasar Badung, is the largest on Bali. Denpasar do, more than any other town on Bali, look like the large, crowded cities of Java.

Bali, Denpasar. The capital center. Dense traffic. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Denpasar. The capital center. Dense traffic. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Immigrants from many nations have settled here, like Chinese, Arabs and Indians as well as people from all over Indonesia, who all have been attracted to this busy city.

Bali, Denpasar. The capital center 
. All roundabouts on Bali seem to have a large sculpture in the center. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Denpasar. The capital center. All roundabouts on Bali seem to have a large sculpture in the center. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Denpasar is not an easy city to navigate with a car, with traffic jams, confusing signs (like on the rest of Bali) and a lot of one way streets. Parking place can also be hard to find. Denpasar is difficult to miss if you explore the island by car or motorbike, it seems that all roads are passing through this city. It must be said that it’s not easy to like Denpasar with its crowded streets, pollution, noise and ugly architecture. But you can as well spend some time here, there are a few things to see, and you can always go shopping.

Bali, Denpasar. The capital center. This river floats through the city. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Denpasar. The capital center. This river floats through the city. (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

The city can of course offer a large collection of temples, like the Hindu temple Pura Jagatnatha, built in 1953. It is used every day by the neighboring village, and often closed for tourists. Another temple is Puri Pemecutan, built in 1907 to replace the original palace which was destroyed by Dutch artillery. The king and his family committed collective suicide, puputan, in order to avoid the humiliation it was to be captured by the Dutch. Pura Maospahit is located in a narrow street in the center of the city. This temple is one of the oldest on Bali, built in the 14th century.

Bali, Denpasar. Art in Denpasar.' (Photo Bjorn Grotting)
Bali, Denpasar. Art in Denpasar.’ (Photo Bjorn Grotting)

Shopping is big in Denpasar, with the best assortment of shops and shopping centers on Bali, as well as traditional markets like Pasar Badung, Pasar Kumbasari and Pasar Burung, the bird market. It is said that an Indonesian man must have three things before his life can be considered successful; a wife, a house and a bird in a cage.

Denpasar is also home to Bali Art Center (Taman Budaya). This is a school and exhibition center for Balinese art and culture. The Taman Budaya area is nice and quiet, and every night there is a Kecak dance performance here. This is also the center of the Bali art festival, lasting one month every year from mid June to mid July. Bali Museum is also worth a visit, the museum consist of several buildings and pavilions. Both the art center and the museum is open daily except for Monday.

Denpasar has many hotels, mostly used by Indonesians, the tourists prefer to stay other places.

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Bjørn Grøtting

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Photographer based in Norway. See a collection of my best photos in the portfolio. Licensing of images is done through Photoshelter or alamy.
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