Sightseeing History & Culture Museums & Galleries history architecture dance Indonesia > Central Java > Yogyakarta

The Palaces Of Yogyakarta And Their Not-So-Distant History

Kevin
Updated Sep 28, 2015

Yogyakarta (pronounced “Jogjakarta”), a city in the central part of Indonesia’s Java island, is rich in history, with earliest records dating back at least 1,200 years. However, what with natural disasters, religious predilection shifts, revolutions and the like, what stands out now as the most accessible period of history only dates back to the 18th century. Two beacons of accomplishment from this period, the Sultan’s Palace and the Water Palace, are conveniently located in the center of the city and are of walking distance from each other.

Top 3 activities to book in Yogyakarta (and vicinity)

Beaux-Arts at an Indonesian Palace?

Indonesia kraton palace

As a result of foreign invasion and natural disaster, much of the palace (“Kraton” in Indonesian) we see today is from a much more modern period, having been built in the 1920s and 1930s. The Palace’s architects clearly decided to go the avant-garde route with many of their stylistic choices, including this entry.

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A large courtyard abutting other courtyards

Indonesia kraton palace courtyard

The central courtyard is large and dotted with shady areas here and there. Just off this central, very easy to stroll around courtyard, are other courtyards, like the one pictured above. Not all areas are accessible to the general public, but that doesn’t have to stop you from peeking!

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Dance performances on at least three stages

Yogyakarta dancers

If you go on a weekend, you should be able to catch a number of casual dance performances. Men and women of all ages perform, and it’s nice to see the children also studying traditional art forms like this. The accompanying music is also performed live, so be sure to check out those performers too, usually in an orchestra pit of sorts off to the side. These musical masters, some of which are into their years, clearly take pride in being a bridge to the past and teachers to the future.

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Splash on over to the Water Palace

Indonesia water palace

The Water Palace (also known as the Water Castle, or “Taman Sari” in Indonesian) is a relic of the 18th century that is in reasonably good repair. Originally a sprawling royal garden, only the central parts remain today. Though it does not feel as though it is dripping with history like a Roman bath might, it still makes for pleasant perusing.

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Look for the beauty in the details

Indonesia water palace detail

Many of the Water Palace’s interior walls are adorned with interesting sculpture. Although the pools immediately draw your attention to the center of the spaces, a keen eye will find import and whimsy at the periphery.

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A nice façade, and a place for a snack too

Indonesia water palace drinks

Towards the rear of the complex, you will find the scene above. It’s a nice place to sip a cool drink and find some shade as you gaze at your surroundings. Sitting here in this relatively quiet part of the city, it doesn’t take much to imagine the grandeur that once was.

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Visiting a couple of palaces makes for a lovely morning or afternoon

With these two attractions so close to each other, it makes for a nice one-two culture punch! Though the present condition is not as grand as could be, the lack of complete restoration actually enhances the experience.

This article was originally published on Sep 28, 2015

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Yogyakarta dancers
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