KERATON OF YOGYAKARTA
Heading all the way south from Jalan Malioboro you’ll end up in the Keraton or Sultan’s Palace. The Keraton doubles as residence for the family of the Sultan of Yogya and as a center of Javanese culture. Built by Pangeran (Prince) Mangkubumi in 1755, the palace is now open to visitors, who can learn all about the way Royal Life in Java is lived and preserved. The Keraton Museum displays a wide selection of the Sultanate’s artifacts, many of which are said to have mystical powers. Make sure to check out daily scheduled cultural and art performances. They are not to be missed.
Facing the Keraton on the north side we find Benteng Vredeburg, a former Dutch fortress built in 1760 to keep an eye on the Sultan, that now serves as a museum.
BOROBUDUR and PRAMBANAN
Two important temple complexes that are ‘a must visit’ when in Yogyakarta are those of the Borobudur and the Prambanan, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
The Borobudur temple is said to be built by King Samaratungga and was finished in 825 after building and construction took the better part of 100 years. It’s the largest Buddhist monument in the world and was rediscovered during the rule of Sir Stamford Raffles as Governor General over the archipelago after been hidden for centuries by volcanic ashes. The jury is still out on the exact meaning of the word Borobudur. One group claims that it means Terraced Mountain, while another group says that the name stands for Elevated Monastery.
Less than 20 kilometers northeast from Yogyakarta’s city center, the Prambanan temple complex dates back to the 9th Century. The temple compound is the largest Hindu temple site in Indonesia and one of the biggest in Southeast Asia. The three main temples, dedicated to the three great Hindu divinities, Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma (Trimurti), are located in the main yard and dominate the site. Originally containing more than 250 structures, it was expanded by successive rulers to the point that a local legend emerged where the temple complex, consisting of 1000 temples, was built in a single night by a powerful man in pursuit of a lady.
During full moon nights the temple complex is the backdrop for open air stagings of the Ramayana ballet.