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Solo, City that never sleeps

Solo is famous as a city of  culture, it is also well known as one of busy trading centers in Java . The popular songs of” Bengawan Solo” ( River Solo) and ”Putri Solo” (Woman of Solo) rise the popularity of this attractive city.





In 1745, Sri Susuhunan Paku Buwono II moved the capital city of Mataram Kingdom from Kartosuro  to a site nearby the river of Solo. Through an extravagant royal procession, Sri Susuhunan Paku Buwono II officially inaugurated his new palace built in the village of Solo and changed the status of Solo to become the capital of the Kingdom of Surakarta Hadiningrat.

Although Surakarta is the official name of the city, but the original name of Solo is still popularly used, it is a synonym.

The Royal Palace of Surakarta Hadiningrat  lies just to the south of the eastern end of  Slamet Riyadi Boulevard, the main thoroughfare of Solo.





Another royal palace in Surakarta is Puro Mangkunagaran located north of Slamet Riyadi Boulevard at the top end of Diponegoro street.

It is obvious that Karaton Surakarta and Puro Mangkunagaran are the centers and fortresses of the valuable royal Javanese culture.

Surakarta or Solo lies on the fertile lowland plain of south east Central Java passed over by the longest river in Java, the Bengawan Solo or Solo river. In the north lie Mount Merapi and Mount Merbabau while in the south west frontier lies Lawu Mountain.

The City Of Solo

The inhabitants of the calm and beautiful city of Solo are known for their soft spoken language. Besides a cultural city, Solo is also famous as a city with abundant places of entertainment, a city that never sleeps.

It is worth to note that Solo has a long  relation with ancient history of Java, among other are :

Sangiran , it is a pre-historic site showing the existence of ancient Javanese people date back 2/two million years ago. It is a proof that the island of Java had existed a very long time ago.

The Kingdom of Mataram I from the 8th century with its archeological inheritance of many captivating Hindu and Buddhist temples or candis, such as Prambanan, Borobudur, Dieng etc.

The Kingdom of Majapahit
which inherited charming 15th century temples on the slope of Lawu Mountain.

Candi Sukuh, more than 900 metres up on Mount Lawu’ western rank, it is said as a mysterious and erotic candi in Java.





Candi Ceto lies 1500 meters above sea level with Bima figures and numerous terraces.

Karaton Pajang , the remnant of the palace of Pajang lies to west of Solo city. The Kingdom of Pajang  was founded by Sultan Hadiwijaya in the early 16th century. When he was young, he was wellknown with his nickname Jakatingkir.

The Kingdom of Pajang was built after the fall of Demak Kingdom and Demak Kingdom was founded after the fall of Majapahit Empire in the 15th century.

Karaton Kartosuro

The remnant of Kartosuro Palace lies in Kartosuro, 10/ten kilometers west of Solo city. It was the capital of Mataram Kingdom II for sixty years. In 1745, Sri Susuhunan Paku Buwono II moved the capital to Surakarta Hadiningrat.





At that time there was a political turmoil in Java with interference of the Dutch colonialists, the position of Paku Buwono II became very weak.

There was  a division of Mataram Kingdom due toThe Giyanti Accord in 1755.

The Kingdom of Ngayogyokarto Hadiningrat ( Jogjakarta) was born under the reins of Sultan Hamengku Buwono I, he was a younger brother of Paku Buwono II. The Salatiga Accord gave birth to the establishment of Kadipaten Mangkunagaran  under Sri Mangku Nagoro I.

( When Java was ruled by Raffles, The Kingdom of Ngayogyokarto Hadiningrat ( Jogjakarta) was divided by two in 1813.. A certain western area of Jogjakarta was given to Kadipaten Pakualaman under Sri Paku Alam I. Sri Paku Alam I was one of the sons of Sultan Hamengku Buwono I.   It was the history of the 4/four royal palaces in Jogjakarta and Surakarta which still exist up to now).

The Graveyard of Ki Ageng Enis

It lies in Laweyan, city of Solo. This graveyard is very popular and visited by many pilgrims. Ki Ageng Enis was a great grand son of Brawijaya V, the last king of Majapahit. He was the father of Ki Ageng Pemanahan, one of Mataram II founders. The first king of Mataram II, Panembahan Senopati was a son of Pemanahan.

Bengawan Solo

Bengawan Solo or Solo river which passes across Solo is the longest river in the island of Java. It comes from its spring  in the limestone hills south east of Solo, it traces a course north-east to the Java sea nearby Surabaya. In the old days river Solo was navigable.


Nostalgic Visit to Solo

Nowadays, it is easy to reach Solo. There are daily flight through Adisumarno airport for domestic and international flight connecting Solo with other cities of Indonesia and abroad. There is also an easy access for travelling by trains and cars.

Railway Station Balapan





The famous railway station Balapan was constructed during colonial time. It preserves its colonial style of building. Balapan  is a large and cozy railway station.

It has a strategic location, 2/two km from the city center. From here people can travel comfortably to various cities of Java such as Jogjakarta, Bandung, Jakarta, Malang, Surabaya, Semarang etc.






Sriwedari is an attractive place for entertainment. In the old days, people call it “Kebon Rojo” means The Garden of the King. It was really a beautiful park for recreation with a small zoo. There were also several restaurants serving various delicious food. Inside the park is the well known Wayang Orang Sriwedari which perform every evening. ( Wayang Orang  is wayang performance  where the players are men and women . They sing, dance, narrate accompanied by gamelan music orchestra. The stories presented are from Ramayana and Mahabarata epoch). The Wayang Orang Sriwedari  had high quality artists adored by  many fans.

As for the elder generation, Sriwedari is a nostalgic place to relax. The location is in Slamet Riyadi Boulevard in the very center of the town. There are dining places for “lesehan”  where the guests are seated above a mat on the  floor without chair.

Some special culinary dishes of Solo are available to be tasted such as “Nasi Liwet” ( rice with the side dishes cooked in a special way), “Srabi Solo”( a cake for desert). They are delicious and the price is not expensive even for backpackers.

On certain days  visitors can enjoy the melodious gamelan  or kroncong beat music played by local artists. Indeed, in  Solo, people can easily find many places for leisure where people will be served with good food while enjoying heavenly music beat.

There are some shops offering souvenirs of fine arts, painting etc and in the rear of Sriwedari there is a modern restaurant with a large parking lot.

The Museum Radya Pustaka





This antique museum which was built in 1890 stands adjoining Sriwedari Park. In the front yard stands the statue of Ronggowarsito, the famous poet and philosopher of Surakarta Royal Palace. He has inherited classical literature of great value.

In this museum, the visitors can see a rich collection of antique souvenirs, statues, gamelan, keris, wayang puppets, scroll of wayang ( wayang beber in Javanese), old books in Javanese and in Dutch language.

Gapura Gladag





This is the main entrance gate from Slamet Riyadi Boulevard to Alun-alun Utara ( North Square) of Surakarta Karaton. The Gapura Gladag was built during the reign of Sunan Paku Buwono X who also built the gate of Klewer market, Batangan, Gading and Pasar Gede.

Pasar Gede

Pasar Gede , a traditional market lies in the middle of Solo city. It sells any kind of household items.

Pasar Klewer

The famous Pasar Klewer lies west of North Square, at the  top end of Secoyudan street. Every kind of cloth materials are sold here, notably batik.The traditional home made cloth of lurik and tenun ikat are also available.

The business transaction in this market is enormous. Except the retail sale, the traders make also  national and international business deals. The turnover is fantastic.

Solo has a reputation as one of the most important Batik Center of Java, it is named also as Kota Batik, The City of Batik. Some reputable batik factories are in Solo.

Pasar Triwindu





It lies in Diponegoro street nearby Puro Mangkunagaran. Triwindu market is considered as the best flea market in Java. This is a heaven for collectors of fine arts, bric-a-brac and curiosities. There are different kinds of extravagant lamps, dinner and tea sets, glasses, cups, plates, goblets, vases, inkwells, ash-trays, teapots etc.

Prices at Triwindu market depend on one’s bargaining expertise.

Alun-alun Lor

In this site , there are vendors of souvenir items such as rebab and other gamelan instruments.

In many places in the city of Solo, there are shops selling products of art and handicrafts such as wayang puppets,  keris, batik, statues, traditional cosmetics and jamu( herbal medicine) and accessories such as rings, bracelets, necklace, gemstones etc.

Preservation of Art and Culture





Solo with its two royal palaces namely Karaton Surakarta and Puro Mangkunagaran in its historic journey, sometimes had to experience hindrance due to internal conflicts or unjust treatment from the Dutch colonialists.





The local rulers although politically emasculated, they were able to preserve and even to flourish the development of traditional art and culture. They were successful to produce best poets and writers whose works are of great quality useful for mankind.




The preservation and development of art and culture are formidable such as classical dance, wayang, gamelan, batik, handicrafts, keris, accessories etc. The art and culture are well preserved and appreciated by the younger generation.

Up to now, Solo is always busy with the performance of traditional and contemporary art which are regularly staged in Taman Budaya Surakarta ( TBS), Surakarta Cultural Center. Welcome to Solo.

To be continued.


Suryo S. Negoro