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Engulf Yourself in Enchanting Charms of Keraton at Yogyakarta
Keraton Yogyakarta is an epitome of beauty and grace in Javanese philosophy. For the spatial arrangements in the complex, Sultan Hamengkubuwono I based it from the cityscape of old Yogyakarta city, while the buildings'directions, architectures, and objects inside the Keraton are all based on Javanese belief system including its mythological values. It is said that the main street of the city is aligned in a straight line with Tugu Yogyakarta, Mount Merapi, Krapyak Hunting House, and the Keraton itself. For what purpose, you ask? The unique layout is apparently to symbolize 'the origin of human beings and their last purposes' or 'Sangkan Paraning Dumadi' in Javanese. Starting from the road from Krapyak Hunting House depicts the journey of a human since he was a baby until he reached adulthood. The Keraton is a symbolism of the meeting between men and their God. The Keraton also built on the southern part of Hindia Ocean, which is believed as a residence of Kanjeng Ratu Loro Kidul, the Queen of South Seas, she also holds an important role as she is a consort of the Sultan.
Exploring every halls and pavillions in Keraton Yogyakarta is definitely a must. Right at the center of the Keraton is the grand reception hall known as Bangsal Kencana or the Golden Pavillion. Most of important royal celebrations and ceremonies are taking place in the grand hall, such as royal coronations, ennoblements, and also royal weddings. Though unfortunately, visitors are not allowed to enter the hall. But at least you can still view the hall and take some pictures behind the rope. Even from such distance, you still can view the ornated details of the grand hall where the ornated roof is strongly influenced by Javanese culture and the stained glass is clearly inspired by Dutch architectures. The four stout teak pillars are actually representation of 3 main religions in Java Island during the period, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam.
But don't worry! visitors are still allowed to access several parts of the inner palace one of them is Museum of Sri Hamengkubuwono IX. The glass-walled pavillion is situated on the south-west part of of the inner palace and was built as a homage to the Ninth Sultan. One of the most prominent item that is being displayed in the pavillion is a table located in the middle of the hall where a treaty was signed between the Indonesian forces and the Dutch to acknowledge Indonesia's independence. One of the most influential figure that push such historical event to happen was none other than Sri Hamengkubuwono IX himself. Here you can also find various kinds of the Sultan's memorabilia, such as his favorite cookwares and a ribbon he received when he was attending in a tourism conference in the Phillipines.
Talking about musical instruments, the Keraton also hold special events regularly. You might want to sit down and enjoy enchanting melody of gamelan, javanese poetry readings, and wayang golek (puppetry) performances. Along with the symbolisms surrounding the buildings, you'll get much more mystical vibes the moment you listened to musical and dance performances held in the palace. You can even learn art of nembang (macapat) or Javanese poetry, writing and reading Javanese letters, or even learn to master classical folk dances. All you need to do is head to the Keraton's parking lot.
How to Get Tickets?
You can purchase the entrance tickets to Keraton Yogyakarta directly in ticket booth for only IDR 12,500 per person, or about $0.86. Or, you can also book the tickets online for much cheaper deals, plus you can skip the long lines that often happen in weekends.
How To Get Around?
Getting around from one pavillion to another inside Keraton Yogyakarta complex can be done by walking on foot. You'll need the sturdiest and the most comfortable walking shoes you can ever find.
What Should I Wear?
Keraton Yogyakarta is a sacred place for all Yogyakarta citizens, so it is important to wear polite clothes when you're going inside the palace. Wearing shoulder-covering loose tops and long pants are highly recommended. If you wear a hat, you'll be asked to take it off before your touring inside the palace complex. It's done as a respectful gesture to the royal family. Wear your most comfortable shoes and light-weight clothes since you'll do a lot of walking.
Best Time to Visit
The best time to visit Keraton Yogyakarta is in June, where Sekaten celebration is taking place. Sekaten is a week-long ceremony that is held in northern alun-alun to celebrate Prophet Muhammad's birth. A festive night market will be held for a week, and it's a great moment for you to immerse with local cultures and entertainments, and also pamper your taste buds with various local delicacies.
Will I Need a Guide?
A guide from abdi dalem will be assigned to escort every visitors, and yes, that's a requirement. It's not a bad thing though since the abdi dalems have spent most of their life in the palace, so they can provide you with interesting facts about Keraton Yogyakarta.
How To Get There?
Keraton Yogyakarta is located in the middle of downtown Yogyakarta and it can be easily accessed by any public transportations available. It is also within walking distance if you departs from Malioboro Road or Jalan Sastrowijayan.