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Yogyakarta: Kraton - Sultan Palace in 360°
The word Kraton (or Keraton) originates from the word ke-ratu-an that means in Indonesian the place where the queen/king lives. It has a broad meaning, all royal palaces were denoted with this name.
The principal residence of the sultan of Yogyakarta is the palace (Kraton) occupying the center of the town.The enormous building was added to the tentative list of World Heritage Sites. The palace complex consists of large courtyards and pavilions. Some of the buildings are open to the public, these contain exhibitions showing gifts of European kings, funishing items , replicas of the treasures of the palace and personal belongings of the sultans.
1. What to see
When the Indonesian independence was proclaimed, the former sultan became the Governor of Yogyakarta. The Special Region of Yogyakarta was created after the independence war ended and legalized on August 3, 1950. The Regional Government carries out the responsibilities and authorities of the central government, while on other hand it has its own autonomous responsibilities and authorities. The first Governor was Hamengkubuwana IX ruling between 1944 and 1988. The current Sultan is Hamengkubuwana X.
1.1. Reception Halls
Bangsal Sri Manganti is utilized as the place where Sultan welcomed the arrival of important guests.
Bangsal Trajumas stands opposite Bangsal Sri Manganti. It is a place for officials of the sultan to welcome important guests. This pavilion suffered damage severe in the earthquake that struck Yogyakarta in May 2006 and needed urgent restoration that lasted till the beginning of 2010.
1.2. Entrance gate
Two Dvarapala statues (door or gate guardian statue) can be found in front of the entrance leading to the center of the palace (called as Kedhaton).
Such statues were traditionally placed outside Hindu or Buddhist temples and other structures to protect the holy places inside.
1.3. Royal gifts and Bangsal Mandala Sana
Gifts of European kings are displayed on the corridor of Panti Sumbaga, a building housing the sultan's private library.
Bangsal Mandala Sana is an octagonal shaped-building with chinese architecture characteristics. This hall was used as the place for traditional music performance that accompanied bedhaya or srimpi dance.
1.4. Yellow Palace
The Yellow Palace (Gedhong Jene) is the official residence of Sultan, built during the reign of Sultan Hamengku Buwono VIII. The yellow color of the building symbolizes sun, the symbol of the supreme God.
To the right of it stands the multi-storey Gedhong Purworetno building erected in Javanese-European style. Purwa means the first or the origin, retno means diamond or light. Thus Gedhong Purworetno reminds us of the origin of human beings, where we come from and where should we return.
1.5. Golden Hall
The golden hall of Bangsal Kencana functioned as the sultan's throne room. According to local rites, when the Sultan sits on the throne here, he is the direct representative of and acts as God. The members of the court are analogues of angels who surround the divine throne. Bangsal Kencana is, therefore, the center of the universe, the heart of the palace.
Bangsal Kotak was the waiting place of dancers just opposite Bangsal Kencana.
1.6. Tea house
Servants prepared tea drinks for the family of the sultan in Gedhong Patehan.
1.7. Memorial museum
This is the memorial museum of the first governor, Hamengkubuwana IX ruling between 1944 and 1988.
2. When to see
Sultan Palace is open Daily from 9 am – 1.30 pm (except Friday 9 am – 12.30 pm).
4. How to get there
If travelling on a package tour to Java, you can be sure that sights of Yogyakarta will not be missing from your journey since the town is located very close to the famous Borobudur and Prambanan temples.
If staying on the island of Bali, you can consider to take a one-day Yogyakarta guided trip. These trips usually include the famous Borobudur and Prambanan temples along with the sights of Yogyakarta. You'll arrive at the airport of Denpasar very early in the morning, fly to Yogyakarta with a local Indonesia flight (Lion Air / Garuda), enjoy the above mentioned monuments and finally get back to your hotel in Bali in the evening. It is important to know that you have to purchase the airplane tickets in advance, but it might be difficult, since Indonesian air flights only accept VISA cards issued in a few countries. Lion Air simply doesn't accept any European or US card, Garuda only accepts cards issued in Western Europe. If you are lucky, you can purchase your tickets in cash a few days before your excursion in a nearby country like Singapore.
It is not recommended to drive on your own in Indonesia due to the general negligance of driving rules. Singposts are written with Latin alphabet, but it might be difficult to find remote places on your own. The best solution is to rent a car with a driver for an entire day.
5. Where to stay
There are hotels in the city for every budget: from backpackers to luxuary 5* hotels.