What stirs in Surakarta?
SURAKARTA, Central Java (JP): Surakarta, or Solo, is known as a city that never sleeps -- something always seems to be happening around the clock. Here are some of the places to be found in this center of Javanese culture with something to offer visitors from near and far.
Keraton Surakarta: The local palace which was built in 1745 by Pakubuwono II after being relocated from Kartasura in Sala village. Humming with tradition and history, it is famed for its Sanggobuwono platform, which the sultan reputedly used for encounters with the queen of the south coast, Ratu Kidul.
A museum stores antiques and heirlooms passed down from Pakubuwono 11. Open from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.; closed on Fridays.
Puro Mangkunegaran: Built by Raden Mas Said, who is better known as Prince Samber Nyawa, in 1757 following the signing of the March 13 Salatiga accord. The home of the Mangkunegara princedom, it has distinctive Javanese architecture in the Joglo style.
Its collection includes valuable gold jewelry, diamonds, wayang golek puppets, masks, handicrafts, carriages and two traditional gamelan. It has been open to the public since 1968.
Taman Sriwedari: Home to wayang orang performances since the reign of Pakubuwono X. Tales are drawn from the Ramayana and Mahabharata classics, with philosophy suited to the people of Indonesia. Performances, with impromptu dialog, are accompanied by gamelan and sinden (traditional singers). Nightly performances from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Radya Pustaka Museum: Built in 1890 by Kanjeng Adipati Sosrodiningrat IV, a high-ranking courtier during the reigns of Pakubuwono IX and Pakubuwono X.
Located on Jl. Slamet Riyadi in the Taman Wisata Cultural Center. Collection includes valuable artefacts, such as kris, gamelan, stone and bronze statues, leather puppets and ceramics. It also owns a collection of old books, including in ancient Javanese and Dutch.
Pasar Klewer: The biggest batik and textile market in the country. Home to a grand selection of batik, from low quality to the most expensive. Surakarta is renowned as a city with batik traditions handed down from generation to generation, and the industry is a major source of income for locals. Bartering is an art in itself. Open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Pasar Triwindu: The city's famed antiques market, located adjacent to Puro Mangkunegaran. A wide array of antiques is available, including ornamental lamps, porcelain plates, batik and parasols. (Sulistyo Budi N)