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Places to Go Around Yogya  

Sultans Palace Water Castle Bird Market Sonobudoyo
Benteng Vredenburg Gedung Agung Tugu Monument Imogiri
  Mount Merapi Parangtritis  


Interesting Sites and Attractions around Yogyakarta
With a plethora of religious, cultural and historical sites in and around Yogyakarta, there is no shortage of places to go and things to see. And whilst often you must pay admission to enter, the entrance fees are so low as to be inconsequential.

Keraton (The Sultan's Royal Palace)
This Javanese Palace was, and still is, the centerpiece of Yogyakarta and for the Hamengku Buwono Dynasty. Originally designed and built by Hamengku Buwono I (circa 1776), it is an outstanding example of elegant, classical Javanese architecture. The Keraton has a North to South orientation and is made up of a series of Bangsal (halls) which are venues for Gamelan, Dances and Wayang (puppet) performances, as well as spacious courtyards, pavilions and domiciles.

The north to south orientation is quite important inasmuch as the Palace, the Tugu and Mount Merapi (see below) are all in a perfectly straight line. This axis is believed to be blessed and in olden days the Sri Sultan used to concentrate his mind along this axis before making an important decision.

You will undoubtedly notice a number of elderly, elegant, reserved and dignified men in traditional batik and Javanese headgear (Blangkon). These are the royal retainers, whose family service to the Sultan goes back many, many generations. These days they are responsible for maintaining the palace and its exhibits, collecting entrance fees and enforcing proper tourist decorum. They consider themselves privileged and act accordingly.

The Keraton itself houses an interesting variety of historically significant objects - from the Antique Royal Gamelan, to Royal Palanquins (glass enclosed conveyances for the Royal family that carried on the shoulders of up to 16 bearers) and original oil portraits and photos of the ten Sultans and their wives and children.

Somewhat surprisingly, the palace is also home to approximately 20,000 people who live and work in the Keraton even today. Many of these residents sell souvenirs, snacks and soft drinks to the many tourists who arrive daily.
Hours: Daily 8:00am to 2:00pm (Fridays 8:00am to 1:00pm). Closed on all National holidays.
Entrance Fee:
Rp. 5,000.- (Rp. 6,000.- if you want to take pictures).


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Taman Sari (Water Castle)
The term Taman Sari roughly translated means “fragrant garden”. In reality Taman Sari served as garden of delights for the Sultans and was originally constructed around 1758. In all too typical “Feudal fashion” the architect (a Portuguese fellow) was executed so that the secret rooms and passage ways built for the Sultan would remain secret...

Originally Taman Sari had a number of facilities including a man made lake, underground escape routes which could be flooded and even a floating Mosque! The focal point of the complex now is the remnants of a large elaborate bathing pool where the Sultan's harem would while away the sultry afternoons each hoping to be chosen by the Sultan for the remainder of the evening. Wars and earthquakes in the 19th century have destroyed much of what was the original Taman Sari however the “bathing pools” have been reconstructed specifically to interest tourists to visit the site.
Hours: Daily 8:00 AM to 2:00 PM (except Fridays 8:00 AM to 1:00 PM)
Location: Just southwest of the Keraton (5 minute walk)
Entrance Fee: Rp. 5,000.-


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Pasar Ngasem (Bird Market)
This noisy, colorful market specializes in all manner of birds, bird feed and assorted supplies. If you are a bird lover you will find this a fascinating (and perhaps even occasionally upsetting) experience - (unfortunately, as is the case in the Jakarta bird market, there is occasional trade in rare and endangered bird species). That said, a very interesting part of this market deals with bird cages. These range from the simple to the simply elegant and in a full range of sizes, colors and patterns (an interesting and different souvenir idea). Be careful about leaning up against trees, there are red ants (the eggs are used as feed).
Hours: Open until 21:00
Location: Pasar Ngasem, Adjacent to Taman Sari
Entrance Fee:
No entrance fee (it's a market...)


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The Sonobudoyo Museum
Sonobudoyo Museum is considered to be the best of Yogyakarta's museums, it is located on the north side of the North Square of the Keraton. Built in 1935, it also features classic Javanese architecture. The museum has the second most complete collection of Javanese and Indonesian cultural artifacts after the National Museum in central Jakarta There are ceramics from the Neolithic age, statues and bronze ware from as far back as the 8th century. Also featured are Wayang Kulit (leather shadow puppets), numerous Topeng (masks), ancient weapons and reference books explaining Javanese culture and court rituals of the time.
Hours: 8:00 - 13:30 (Tue - Thu), 8:00 - 11:30 (Fri), 8:00 - 12:00 (Sat)
Wayang Kulit performances each evening 20:00 - 22:00 hrs.
Location: Jl. Trikora No. 6 (north side of the Keraton)
Entrance Fee:
Rp. 750.-


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Benteng Vredenburg (Fort Vredenburg)
Built in 1765, Fort Vredung was the home of the Dutch Colonial Army stationed in Jogjakarta to protect the interests of the Dutch East India Company (Die Kompanie). The fort was also used as a refuge for the Dutch colonial families in times of trouble. Restored in 1980, it provides an interesting glimpse into the lives of the Dutch colonial military. Today, some of the former barracks house patriotic “Dioramas” of the fight for independence, from a primarily Indonesian point of view.
Hours: 8:00 - 12:00 (Mon - Sat)
Location:
Jl. A. Yani (extension of Jl. Malioboro)
Entrance Fee:
Rp. 750,-


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Gedung Agung Directly opposite Benteng Vredenburg on the eastern side of Jl. Malioboro is Gedung Agung. It was once the residence of the Dutch Resident Administrator during 1946-1949 and later the residence of Indonesia's first President, President Soekarno, when the capital of Indonesia was temporarily stationed in Yogyakarta.


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Tugu Monument Tugu means 'column' in the Indonesian language. The Tugu Monument now standing due north of the Keraton at the intersection of Jl. Mangkubumi and Jl. Sudirman is not the original. The original Tugu was erected 1755 to commemorate the establishment of the Ngayogyakarta Sultanate. As mentioned above it is direct alignment with the Keraton and Mount Merapi, forming an axis that is believed to hold special power.


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Imogiri Perched atop a hill 12 km southeast of Yogyakarta is Imogiri. Imogiri is the Keraton's royal cemetery. Built in 1645 for the Sultan Hamengku Buwono I all Sultans through Hamengku Buwono IX and their families have been interred here. As at the Keraton, you will find many older Javanese men and women who guard and maintain the cemetery and consider it a privilege to do so. These men and women act very dignified and expect you to act so as well. Visitors will need to be properly dressed to enter (attire is available for rent) and be prepared for the climb to the summit. Folklore has it that the number of the steps going up does not match the number of steps coming down (this is certainly true if you have spent the morning crawling around Borobudur - go ahead and try counting!). FYI, there are 345 steps...
Hours: Mondays 8:00 - 16:00 and Fridays 8.00 - 14.00
Location: South East Kota Gede
Entrance Fee:
Rp. 3000.-


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Mount Merapi Lying just north of Yogyakarta is the Indonesian archipelago’s most active and destructive volcano, Mount Merapi (Fire Mountain). It also holds the distinction of being the 6th most active volcano in the world. The most recent eruptions took place in 1994 and, quite symbolically, in 1998 when social unrest swept across Java, deposing the New Order Regime of former President Soeharto

There are hill resorts located on the mountain. Climbing, camping and just observing the volcano can be arranged by various tour operators. At 2,920 m (3163 feet) above sea level the eternally smoking Merapi provides a magnificent and sometimes malevolent backdrop to the area.


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Parangtritis Beach
Located 27 km (17 miles from Yogyakarta is the beach at Parangtritis which is popular with local residents particularly on the weekends. Parangtritis is a beach resort (of sorts) where sandy beach meets rocky cliffs. Despite the beautiful stretch of sandy beach, the crashing surf, the cool blue waters, the area remains commercially undeveloped.

The strong undertow combined with a firm spiritual belief in the power of the Ratu Kidul (Queen of the South Seas) keeps people out of the cool, inviting water. The ever youthful and beautiful Ratu Kidul reigns over sea nymphs and spirits. It is a common belief that Ratu Kidul occasionally fancies the company of people (especially those wearing green coloured clothing) and she will cast a spell that makes the victim enter the water and become a permanent visitor to her underwater kingdom. As a result, the typical outing for Indonesians involves a stroll or horse drawn carriage ride on the wind swept beach and a stop for some snacks and refreshments at one of the many warungs (food stalls) on the beach.


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Yogyakarta Hotels - Keraton
Travel Tips

Aside from Borobudur Temple there are a number of interesting tourist sights well worth a visit inside the city proper.

Be advised that all venues are closed to the public on Indonesian national & public holidays.

In addition to your hotel Concierge the following publications are available in hotels and kiosks throughout the city. They are good references for what is going on in the city during your visit:

The Jakarta Post.
Daily English language newspaper with a special section once a week on Yogyakarta.

Jakarta Kini,
A magazine for expats and visitors alike. Focusing more towards Jakarta, there is nonetheless a section for where to go in Central Java and beyond.

Jogja Ad
Published biweekly, Jogja Ad is mostly classified ads for the local expats but it does have a couple great maps of the city and advertisements form some of the more prominent local businesses that are worth noting.

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