The last day of any trip is a bittersweet moment. For one, I was glad I have an eventful trip in Central Java, but on the other, it felt it wasn’t enough. Just to squeeze in some quality hours on my last day in Yogyakarta, I decided to visit the Yogyakarta Kraton, the palace of the Sultan, which is just a walking distance from Hotel Winotosastro, where I was staying. It was a pretty normal day with the temperature just right for a comfortable walk. I just followed the road from my map and found a walled complex where houses, shops and the kraton (palace) is found.
Home of the King
I was slightly disappointed with my visit at the Kraton in Solo so I wasn’t expecting much from this one. Though I was kind of relieved it was in better state and maintained. Just go past the touts and vendors by the north gate, I got inside without a problem. I hear Javanese chanting and saw an old man seated at a center of a pavilion surrounded by gamelan instruments. They said it was an epic song he’s reading from a book though I understand none of it, it does set a good mood as I entered the heart of Yogyakarta where the Javanese Heritage and Culture is preserved within this structures originally built in 1755.
The King and his family still resides in this kraton but of course the public is not allowed to go there. We were left to view the main reception building and garden with a few pavilions that houses some old photos, batik designs, and several items brought in from Europe as gifts and other family heirlooms. The large part of the kraton is a big museum and having a guide can be better to understand and appreciate the displays in the area. The guides are free with the ticket but they would naturally ask for a tip. Since I was on my own, I didn’t get one so instead I would eavesdrop on some English-speaking guides explaining trivia on a certain section.
Well I think this was better than the Kraton in Solo. I admired the architecture more, the mixture of Dutch design with Javanese like the teak wood panels, the elaborate lamp posts designs, window and the roof. Aside from the numerous presence of Palace Servants either servicing as tour guides, busy with maintenance or simply sitting by the floor with the other servants planning (or chatting) with each other, that’s all one can see.
Neighborhood Pet Shops
Within the high walls protecting the kraton is a city in itself. It’s complete with institutions like schools, markets, shops and mosque servicing the more than 25,000 residents living within the walls. A thousand of these people are employed in the palace servicing the king. What intrigued me in my walk in the neighborhood was the numerous pet shop, particularly selling birds and cages. I like how the different cage designs blend into the old wood walls of the shops. It’s such a character. Though I really enjoyed the walk, heading back I took a becak on my way back to my hotel to check out. It marked the end of my trip to an enriching journey in Indonesia’s Central Java.
- The Kraton has an entrance fee of Rp 12,500
- There’s a Rp 1000 fee for cameras
- The guides are free with the ticket but donation is expected
- Admission hours is from 8am to 2pm from Saturday to Thursday and only up to 1pm on Fridays
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.