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Yogyakarta or simply Yogya, is one of the foremost cultural centers of Java. Located at the foot of the active Merapi volcano, Yogyakarta was in the 16th and 17th centuries the seat of the mighty Javanese empire of Mataram., from which present day Yogyakarta has inherited the best of traditions. The city itself has a special charm which seldom fails to captivate the visitor.

This province is one of the most densely populated areas of Indonesia. The city came into being in 1755, after the division of Mataram into the Sultanates of Yogyakarta and Surakarta (Solo). Gamelan, classical and contemporary Javanese dances, the wayang kulit leather puppet theater and other expressions of traditional art will keep the visitor spellbound. Local craftsmen excel in the arts of batiks, silver and leather work.

The Sultan's palace is the hub of Yogya's traditional life and despite the advance of modernity, it still emanates the spirit of refinement which has been the hallmark of Yogya's art for centuries. Next to the traditional, contemporary art has found fertile soil in Yogya's culture oriented society. ASRI, the Academy of Fine Arts is the center of arts and Yogya itself has given its name to an important school of modern painting in Indonesia, perhaps best personified by the famed Indonesian impressionist, the late Affandi.

Yogya is often called the main gateway to the center of Java where it is geographically located. It stretches from Mount Merapi to the Indian Ocean. There is daily air service to Yogya from Jakarta, Surabaya and Bali as well as regular train service and easy accessibility by road.


Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat Palace

The palace court with its grand and elegant Javanese architecture lies in the center of the city. It was founded by Prince Mangkubumi in 1755. The Prince was then called Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono

I. He chose the right location of the compound between the Winongo River and the Code River. The palace stretches out from north to south.

The front yard is called alun-alun Utara (the North Square), and the back yard is called Alun-alun Selatan (the South Square).

The layout of the buildings shows that the Palace, the commemorative column and Mount Merapi lie in one line.

The palace meeting hall is called the Pagelaran, where formal meetings of palace officials are held, while the "Manguntur Tingkil" hall is the place where the Sultan is seated.

The palace visitors can enjoy the atmosphere of the kraton in former times by visiting the life-size diorama of wedding ceremonies on the palace meeting hall, performed by puppets which are intentionally arranged to create such an atmosphere. Sets of Javanese musical instruments, antiques and heirlooms have made the palace of Yogyakarta worth to visit.

Water Castle

Built in 1758 by Sultan Hamengkubuwono I just west of the kraton, part of this pleasure garden and castle is at present no more than an intriguing collection of ruins, pools, arches and underground passages enclosed by massive walls, however, the central courtyard with the nymph-baths has been restored.

The Water Castle is located in the older part of the city within walking distance from the Bird Market. A number of batik workshops line the avenue leading to the pleasure garden's entrance.


Imogiri is the official cemetery of the royal descendants from Yogyakarta and Surakarta. The royal graveyard is located on a hilltop, reachable by 345 stone steps leading to it.

Imogiri is about 17 kms southeast of Yogyakarta and easily accessible by bus or car. The tombs are built within three main courtyards.

Entry into the smaller courtyards housing the tombs of the princes is allowed only on Monday 09.00 - 12.00 or Friday 13.00 - 16.00. Traditional Javanese dress has to be worn, which however can be hired on the spot at a modest fee. The cemetery is closed during the Moslem month of Ramadhan.

Prambanan Temple

This magnificent Shivaite temple derives it name from the village where it is located. Locally known as the Loro Jonggrang Temple, or the Temple of the "Slender Virgin", it is the biggest and most beautiful Hindu temple in Indonesia.

Seventeen kilometers east of Yogyakarta, it is believed to have been built by King Balitung Maha Sambu in the middle of the ninth century. Its parapets are adorned with a bas-reliefs depicting the famous Ramayana story.

The first open-air theater on the southern side of the temple was built in 1960 and the new theater on the western side of the temple in 1988. During full moon evenings in the month from May to October, the Ramayana ballet is performed right here. The temple complex of Prambanan lies among green fields and villages. It has eight shrines, of which the three main ones are dedicated to Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma.

The main temple of Shiva rises to a height of 130 feet and houses the magnificent statue of Shiva's consort, Durga.

Museum Sonobudoyo

This museum, founded in November 1935 and designed by the Dutch architect Kersten, is built in traditional Javanese architecture. It exhibits weapons, leather and wooden puppets of wayang theater, masks, statues, textiles, curios and old Javanese gamelan instruments. The museum is situated on the northern side of the city's main square in front of the Sultan's Palace.


Kotagede, about five kilometers southeast of Yogyakarta, is a neat little town which was once the seat of the mighty Mataram empire. In this old palace town with its walled-in houses, the graves of the first rulers of Mataram are still to be found. Since the 1930s, however, Kotagede has become famous for being the center of the Yogya silverwork industry. Kotagede is easily reached by "andong", the four wheeled horse-drawn cart, by taxi, bus, or car.

There are a number of workshops where visitors are welcome to watch silver being transformed into beautiful works of art known as "Yogya Silver".

Affandi Museum

On the main road between the airport and the city stands the Affandi Museum (1907 - 1990) in a lush garden next to his peculiar private home on stilts. He was Indonesia's foremost impressionist painter who built a private museum for his own paintings and of those of his daughter Kartika. Affandi's grave (died in May 1990) lies in the backyard next to the museum.


Southwest of Yogyakarta lies the village of Kasongan, known for its artistic pottery and earthenware. Guidance from contemporary Indonesian artists has turned Kasongan earthenware into works of art which can be bought inexpensively at art shops all over Java.

Batik Research Center

Situated on the eastern outskirts of the city, it has an interesting permanent exhibition of batiks in classic and modern designs. The process of batik can also be seen here, both the hand drawn and hand stamped.

Parang Tritis Beach

A seaside resort 27 km south of Yogyakarta on the Indian Ocean. According to Javanese mythology, the Goddess of the South Seas, Nyai Loro Kidul or Ratu Kidul, was married to Panembahan Senopati who founded the Mataram Kingdom. Since that time, every year the sultans of Yogyakarta have made special offerings to her in a beach-side ceremony called "Labuhan".


This resort on the slopes of Mt. Merapi, 24 km north of Yogyakarta is surrounded by an enchanting countryside. The "Telogo Muncar" waterfall and swimming pool make this resort a very pleasant recreation place. Bungalows are available for rent.

Shopping Hints

Batik, leather puppets, silverware, tortoise shell and horn ornaments, pottery, antique jewelry and paintings.

Picure: Yogyakarta Royal Troops

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