Yogyakarta – Destination of the Month on Wikitravel
A “Destination of the Month” on Wikitravel is a showcase article for a major travel destination, selected monthly by Wikitravel’s users. The featured destination for this month is Yogyakarta, Indonesia.
Yogyakarta is a bustling town of some 500,000 people and the most popular tourist destination on Java, largely thanks to its proximity to the temples of Borobudur and Prambanan. It is the capital city of the province of Yogyakarta Special Region which is located in the southern part of the Central Java province, Indonesia.
Despite the official spelling, the name is usually pronounced and not uncommonly written Jogjakarta or just Jogja.
The town is a center of art and education, offers some good shopping and has a wide range of tourist facilities. Yogyakarta is a relatively small city, so travelling around town should not be too expensive.
Being one of the oldest cities in Indonesia, Yogyakarta has many heritage buildings and monuments. The number one must-see attraction is Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono’s palace, better known as Kraton Ngayogyakarto. Other heritage buildings from colonial era are: BNI ’46 building, Kantor Pos Besar (Central Post Office) building, and Bank Indonesia building, all of them are located north of the Sultan’s ground. Other notable landmarks and attractions are:
– Tugu Monument. A well known landmark located in the center of downtown Yogyakarta. Originally built by Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwono VI, the top spire is a round sphere which represents the universe. During the colonial era, the spire was replaced with a golden cylinder.
– Benteng Vredeburg. A Dutch fort located in front of Gedung Agung (President’s Palace). A great example of the Dutch colonial architecture. Few warfare items is still preserved, including a twin cannons.
– Kotagede. The capital of ancient Islamic Mataram kingdom. Before independence, Kotagede was the central economic district of Yogyakarta, as it held the largest marketplace and was home to many wealthy batik merchants. Although some ancient buildings have been modernized or replaced with newer buildings, Kotagede remains a prime example of ancient Javanese architecture and city structure. Be sure to check out the local silver handicrafts.
– Imogiri, southwest of town. Graveyard of the Yogyakarta and Surakarta royal families. Currently closed due to damage sustained in the May 2006 earthquake.
Kotabaru, which used to be Dutch officials residential area, has few heritage homes as well as a colonial style church & monastery (Gereja Kotabaru) and a stadium (Stadion Kridosono).
Yogyakarta city was built with deep philosophy: the city was designed so that the main elements of the city forms a imaginary line. This straight line starts from Parangtritis on the coast, to Kraton Yogyakarta, to Tugu Monument, and finally to Mount Merapi. This represents Sultan’s strong relationship with the guardian spirits of Mt. Merapi and the beach of Parangtritis.
Other popular destinations in the Yogyakarta region are:
– The massive Buddhist temple of Borobudur, the largest Buddhist monument in the world, is 40 minutes away by car and one of the main drawcards for visitors to Yogyakarta.
– Kaliurang is a small town on the southern slope of Mount Merapi.
– Ketep offers a great vantage point for a spectacular view of Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabu. This site has a small cinema which regularly shows an interesting documentary of Mount Merapi. Located in Muntilan, east of Borobudur, 40 minutes from Yogyakarta by car.
– The Hindu temples of Prambanan, just 20 minutes away, are a close second. The smaller temples of Kalasan and others are on the way to Prambanan.
– Ratu Boko palace, only 2 kms north of Prambanan. An ancient royal palace complex, similar in architectural layout with other Kratons or palaces in Java. Magnificently located on top of a hill, Ratu Boko has been recently restored.
– Parangtritis on the south coast is one of the better known beaches. Local folklore suggests that this beach is the palace of the legendary Nyai Loro Kidul or ‘Queen of the South’. It is common knowledge among locals not to wear anything green in color, or the Queen will entice the wearer into the ocean to drown. Warning: Never swim at Parangtritis beach. The wild waves is known to be extremely deadly: it has killed many people who ignored this precautions.