Jogjakarta’s Kraton

At the center of Yogyakarta lies a city within the city: the Kraton. Built in the middle of the eighteenth century, this walled-city serves as the home of the sultans of what remains of the Mataram kingdom to this day.

It lies between Tugu as the north border and Panggung Krapyak as the south border, between Code River in the east and Winongo River in the west; between the Merapi Mountain and the South Sea. In the mind of the Javanese community, kraton is defined as center of the world that is described as center of the universe.

After the Giyanti Agreeement, Yogyakarta territory was given to Pangeran Mangkubumi. To run his governance, he built a palace in 1755 in Hutan Beringan area; such a good place flanked by two rivers that protect it from being flooded. The first king of Yogyakarta Palace was Pangeran Mangkubumi with the title Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono I (HB I).

Karaton, Keraton or Kraton, originates from the word ke-ratu-an that means the place where the queen/king lives. Simple explanation of its broader meaning is that all structures and buildings in the Kraton area have significant meaning related to essential Javanese philosophy of life, namely Sangkan Paraning Dumadi that means the origin and the destination of human being.

The palace is open to guided tours for properly dressed guests. Inside you’ll find many shady courtyards connected by beautifully decorated covered walks.

Of particular interest are the ornate reception halls as well as the large open air pendopos for listing to gamelan performances. You’ll also find a small air-conditioned room where the desk at which the ninth sultan planned the overthrow of the Dutch is enshrined. Also interesting is the gallery displaying the royal family tree and photographs of many members. We thought the painting of the eighth sultan on his circumcision day to be particularly curious.

There’s also an extensive display of the ninth sultan’s mementos, including his favorite cooking utensils. Another gallery displays the gifts from various state visits.

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