TWHS: Historical City Centre of Yogyakarta

Concluding our sweep through central Java, back at Yogyakarta today: as not only is it your base for exploring Borobudur, Semarang, Sangiran, and Prambanan, it’s also on the Tentative Lists itself:

Historical City Centre of Yogyakarta



The historic city centre of Yogyakarta was built as a representation of microcosmos based on the Javanese cosmology and philosophy. This was manifested in its specific location in the wider landscape as well as the plan of the city centre. The city is situated between Merapi Volcano and the South Sea and flanked by three rivers each to the east and west. Such a landscape is perceived as the replica of the Universe and indeed an ideal place to establish the Kraton (Palace) as the centre of the Sultanate of Yogyakarta which is also considered as the centre of the world. The plan of the historical city centre of Yogyakarta was designed by the Hamengkubuwana I to signify the human life cycle, from the very beginning of human life to the reunification of the soul with the God. This universal value has been embodied in the main components of the city centre along the so-called philosophical axis of Yogyakarta. In addition, some particular components of the city centre also represent the other basic concepts of human nature, i.e. to maintain harmonious relations between God – Human – Nature through manunggaling kawulo gusti (unity of God with Human as well as the King with his people) and to create a peaceful and beautiful world.

The Javanese philosophy implemented in the plan of the historical city centre of Yogyakarta is indeed a blend of local wisdom, Hinduism, and Islam as a result of intensive cultural interaction of different civilizations in Java…

The main attraction for the visitor is the Kraton, or palace, pictured above:

The Keraton (also spelled kraton or karaton) or the Palace of Yogyakarta, is a grand complex that was meticulously planned to reflect the Javanese cosmos. This splendid example of traditional Javanese architecture has no equal. Designed and built in stages, the Keraton was completed in 1790. This elegant complex of pavilions was constructed entirely on ancient beliefs and each feature of the complex, from the courtyards to the trees, has a special symbolic meaning related to sophisticated Javanese world view.

A green square called alun-alun fronting the palace, has a large banyan tree in its center, while behind the palace is another similar square. When a sultan dies, the cortege leaves by the southern gate on its way to the cemetery of kings at Imogiri. This palace was designed to be more than just a royal residence. It was built to be a focal point of the Sultan’s entire kingdom…

If you’ve got the time might as well visit, there’s some exhibits and very nice detail work to admire…

Kraton Detail

… but only if you have the time left over after visiting the WHS temples nearby!

Actually, more interesting than the palace itself is that on the exit you can expect to be accosted by the local touts who will let you in on the special deal! that your Kraton ticket also entitles you to a FREE TOUR! of a local batik factory. Might as well follow them into the winding passageways, because it is interesting to see how the tourist batik prints get produced,

Batik Seller

… and test yourself at just how good you are at haggling away against high pressure sales tactics!

One last note for your visit to the area: We ticked these central Java sites off in such good order thanks to the fine, fine services of

and we recommend them thoroughly to you as well for your Yogyakarta visit!

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