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Glimpse of Jogjakarta





A strong sense of cultural vibration fills the air of Jogja.  Everything seems to flow naturally and comfortably.  “Enjoy life as is” and this seems to be how nature and the people of Java greet you.  The beautiful sound of the traditional musical instrument, the gamelan, whispers softly to your heart “Welcome to Jogjakarta, the city of the peaceful heart”.  This is in fact the official banner proudly placed on the side of the main street, which basically encourage you to enjoy the clean, healthy, orderly, safe and comfortable town.  For a moment, you adjust yourself to the caress of heavenly music, which has been around in the land since ancient time, to the sight of antiques in front of your eyes.  The batik with elegant prints, the colorful leather puppets, jewelry and silver craft, the antique Javanase dagger known as the ‘keris’ and other kind of traditional crafts such as wooden and stone statues, masks, a bamboo musical instrument known as ‘angklung’ and many more.




These beautiful old art exist with the change of time without any changes.  Not only their physicality and presentation are beautiful, each contain a certain meaning.  The batik, for one, each print featured has its own meaning.  Just as the beautiful keris might carry a mystical power.  These are the interesting aspects related to the people of Jogja and Java, especially those who still preserve the traditional culture.  Local people welcome visitors to enjoy the life of the Jogjanese and its sense of good humor.  They live and breath their lives in accordance to the Javanese philosophy, which even though very serious, is implemented and conducted in such an easy manner.  You can’t help but to come into an understanding of the traditional life style, the written and spoken.  Enjoy not only the physicality of it but also the meaning of it.  In this globalization era, the echo of life in Jogya these days is still a reminiscent of the way that life was back in the ancient days. 

Special Region of Yogyakarta, is the official name of this little town.  Traditionally the elderly named the town Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat.  This kingdom town was initially part of the Mataram kingdom of the 16th century, which was the descendent from the ancient Mataram of the 8th century.  Ancient Mataram produced historical temples such as Borobudur, Prambanan, Dieng etc. 

In these modern day and age, the people of Jogjakarta remain to respect their legal and traditional leader,  Sri Sultan Hamengku Buwono X as the king of the palace of Jogjakarta and the official governor of the region.  He is assisted by Sri Paku Alam X the prince, as his vicar.  The uniqueness of the government system of Jogja, earns the town its title of Special Region, acknowledged by the Indonesian government in 17 August 1945.  History stated that Jogja was once made the capital of Indonesia back in 1946 to 1949 during the independent war, this is why Jogja is also known as the Capital of Revolution.




Ancient and modern live hand in hand in this town.  Once you arrive in Jogja airport or train station, you can easily travel either using cars or horse carriage( andong) and tricycle ( becak).  To commute your heavy merchandise you can use a truck or a carriage pulled by a cow.  While new architectures are easily spotted in the town, old buildings are preserved as well.  Food wise, Jogja spoils your palettes with both traditional food such as gudeg, MbokBerek fried chicken and there’s franchises from the western world as well.  Jogja is known also as the City of Gudeg, for the well known delicious local dish called gudeg.  Another common thing in Jogja is to see people in traditional clothes.

The Region of Jogjakarta

The magical region of Jogja lies in the south part of central Java.  It is the center of Javanese culture and tradition, foreigners often refer to it as ‘the cradle of Javanese culture and tradition’.




In the very north, the mountain Merapi lies.  This mountain while at some points may be dangerous with its hot lava and its explosives, it also gave fertility to the soil around it, much needed by the people in the area.  This is why people chose not to leave the land of its ancestor which has given them life. 
They are bound in a mystical relationship with the “possessor” of Merapi and convinced that they will live a prosperous and safe life there.

It is the tradition of the palace of Jogjakarta to conduct an offering ceremony in an area called Ngestiaji, located in north of Kinahrejo village south of Merapi.  A citizen of Kinahrejo known as Mbah Maridjan (translation: Grand Father Maridjan) is elected as a loyal servant to the palace and assigned as the key person for Merapi (Mbah Maridjan is famous in Indonesia).

Unfortunately, the eruption of Mount Merapi on October 26 2010, completely destroyed Kinahrejo Village. The village which was beautiful and lush with green trees, was completely overtook by raging lava and hot clouds of Merapi. Almost all of the inhabitants were killed including Mbah Maridjan.




The Hindian ocean lies in the south, known as Segoro Kidul, which means the dangerous south sea with its strong currents.  The local people believe that the ocean is mystically ruled by Kanjeng Ratu Kidul, the goddess of the sea.  She had an agreement with Panembahan Senopati , the first king of Mataram, that the queen of the sea will protect the king and his people from any danger.  The palace of Jogja consistently conducts a ritual ceremony once a year to give offering to Kanjeng Ratu Kidul.  This ceremony takes place in ParangTritis beach.  This ceremony attracts both local and international tourists.


Panembahan Senopati built the second capital of Mataram, known as Kota Gede (translation: the big city) in 1582.  Kota Gede is always known as the center of silver craft, it is located about 5 kilo meter southeast of Jogja.  The tomb of the first king and the elderly of the Mataram kingdom is now a famous ritual site.

The burial site of Sultan Agung and the other kings of Mataram, Surakarta and Jogjakarta is now known as Imogiri , located south of Kota Gede.




Sewu mountain, is the high terrace consists of hills located in the southeast part of Jogja.  The soil in this area is not fertile, however this area is known for its mystical legends and many meditation centers from ancient days.  Other areas, except for Menoreh mountain, are lower terraces with fertile soil. 
The people of Jogja proudly preserve the magical power of their land and culture.  These days, the people selectively pick and choose part of global modernization to be integrated in their day-to-day life style.  This is Jogja, where modern and tradition go hand-in-hand.

The uniqueness of Jogja




In the cultural town of Jogjakarta, the palace of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat is the center of  everything.  The king domiciles in the palace, and in the past the palace is also the central of government.  The palace was built in 1756 and designed by the first king of Jogja, Sultan Hamengku Buwono the 1st.  The current ruling king is Sultan Hamengku Buwono the 10th, which is also the governor of the special region of Jogjakarta. 

A name contains meaning to the Javanese.  The expert of language explained that the name “ngayogyakarta” means a state built with the good intention to provide a prosperous life.




Besides the palace of the Sultan, there is also another palace, the Puro Pakualaman which was built in 1813 by one of the sons of the first Sultan Hamengku Buwono, which later became Sri Paku Alam the 1st.

After the independence of Indonesia, Jogja was given the status of Special Region by the government of Indonesia, and the Sultan and Paku Alam aside from their titles as King and Vicar, were also officially given the titles of Governor and Vice Governor of the region.  This was an agreement made between the Republic of Indonesia and the Negari – The State of Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat. 

Taman Sari (The Sari Garden)




Taman Sari used to be a water palace, built as a relaxation luxury retreat by Sultan Hamengku Buwono the 1st in 1758.  Unfortunately the building and garden were destroyed by an earth quake in 1856.

Currently, some parts of it such as the bathing pool of the queen have been restored, the rest is still in major need of restoration.  However, the sight although might seem a little dark is still very interesting to visit with its under ground hall ways and mosque. 

At the time, some parts of the old garden became residential area and some transformed into art huts offering paintings and batik lessons.


Sonobudoyo Museum

The Javanese style museum is located on the north of North Square.  Built by the Java Institute back in the colonial days, it houses a collection of Javanese art such as old books, literature, puppets, masks, daggers, batik and statues. 

Gedung Agung




The beautiful building was a Dutch residence from the days of Dutch colonialism in Indonesia.  When Jogjakarta became the capital of the Republic of Indonesia in 1946-1949, Gedung Agung became the official residence of the first President of Indonesia, Soekarno

Vredeburg Fort




This building is located in front of Gedung Agung.  This was a Dutch fort.  It has been restorated and is now a museum which explains the history of the people’s fight to become a nation. 

The Cultural Park of Jogjakarta (Taman Budaya Jogjakarta)




It is located behind the Vredeburg fort, many art performances are shown here.

The Bank building and the Post office




These old buildings of colonial style are located on the north of North square.

Beringharjo Market




The traditional market of Jogja is located on Malioboro avenue, in the center of the town.  There are plenty of merchandise offered in this old market.

Vice Regent Danurejan

Is the complex of the official offices of the Governor, the Vice Governor, and their staff.  In the past it was the office and official residence of a Vice Regent of the palace.  Each vice regent, was given the official title of “Patih” by the king and official name of Danurejo.

However, during the Dutch occupation in Indonesia, each assignment of Patih Danurejo by the King needed to get an approval of the Dutch government.  

Tugu Station




The main train station in Jogja is named Tugu Station.  The strategic location enables the station to link Jogja to other cities such as Jakarta, Bandung, Solo, Semarang, Malang, Surabaya etc. 





The monument Tugu with its specific shape is located on the north of Tugu Station, in the intersection of Mangkubumi avenue and Sudirman avenue.


Malioboro Avenue



This is the most famous street in Jogja.  Malioboro is the trade mark of Jogja, with its attractive sights. The curbs of the street are filled with displays of vendors selling merchandise such as art and craft, clothing, accessories etc.  At night the curbs turn into restaurants where the guests are seated on the mat on the ground (‘lesehan’ to sit without a chair).

This was the vibe of the old Malioboro street. Now, all around Malioboro has been laid out neatly so that it is comfortable for pedestrians and people who want to sit back and enjoy the uniqueness of Malioboro.

All sellers of various kinds of goods, have now been given a place in two large malls that are nicely laid out.



Yogyakarta has two airports:

1. Adisucipto airport, located in the East of Yogyakarta

2. Yogyakarta International Airport, located in Kulon Progo area, 25 kilometers in the west side of Yogyakarta


Yogyakarta is well known for its food scene. It also offers heritage tourism destinations such as the PALACE of Yogyakarta, several Buddhist and Hindu temples such as PRAMBANAN and BOROBUDUR in Magelang. In addition, there are also interesting new tourist attractions to visit.


The above are buildings and monuments which have became the trade marks of Jogjakarta.  If one looks closely the locations of these buildings and monuments are in one straight line from south to north from the royal palace to Tugu.  (The spiritual meaning of this, the life of a person will go through several phases from the worldly needs until the person is able to achieve the real life, to believe and to bow down before the Lord God). 

That is Jogyakarta at a glance.


Suryo S.Negoro
Translated  by Nurul Kartikasari