Saturday, November 2, 2013

Photos from the Royal Palaces of Yogyakarta: The Kraton and Taman Sari Water Castle

In the center of the cultural capital of the Javanese lie the white walls which house the royal residences of the Yogyakarta Sultanate: the Kraton. There are a number of kraton in Indonesia as it simply refers to any royal palace. Kraton comes from ka-ratu-an, or "where the ratu resides." The ratu is the title of the ruler, the head of state. To Filipinos like me, a similar title exists: datu.

The Yogyakarta Kraton was built in the mid-1700s and has since been the political and cultural center of the city, not to mention a fine example of royal Javanese architecture. I walked here from the Prawirotaman area in the south and learned (the hard way) how large this complex was. There are actually three primary sets of structures here (from north to south): the Museum Kareta Kraton, a museum for the sultan's chariots; the Kraton royal residences itself; and, the Taman Sari Water Castle, a recreation facility for the royal family complete with swimming pools and relaxation areas.

The Kraton is easy to reach from Sosrowijayan, Malioboro, or Prawirotaman, all located immediately around the city center's walls. Respectively, entrance fees are 5,000 IDR (5 cents US); 12,500 IDR (1.25 USD); and, 10,000 IDR (1 USD). Below are some photos I took from the royal palaces of Yogyakarta.

Kraton, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
The Pagelaran is the main entrance hall of the Kraton. Oddly enough, you cannot access the Kraton from here, just the Museum Kareta Kraton.

Kraton, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
The Museum Kareta Kraton (underwhelmingly) contains photographs and exhibits of the sultan's European-style chariots.

Kraton, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
A ceremonial hall in the Museum Kareta Kraton

Kraton, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Looking back towards the Pagelaran from the Museum Kareta Kraton

Kraton, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
The inner entrance gates to the Kraton with the emblem of the Yogyakarta Sultanate found at the topmost part. Visitors note that the complex is only open from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Kraton, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
A garden pavilion, one of the many structures in the main royal residential area of the Kraton

Kraton, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
The gold-decorated ceiling of the Bangsal Kencana, the opulent reception hall of the sultan, complete with teak columns and marble floors

Kraton, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
A cloth inscribed with Aksara Jawa, the traditional Javanese script. Aksara Jawa is a "child" of Old Kawi, a mother script also used in the Laguna Copperplate of the Philippines.

Kraton, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
A wayang kulit puppet, an implement used in the Malay world's shadow puppet theater

Kraton, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Three of the handsomely dressed retainers working as ushers and attendants in the Kraton. (I asked before I took the photo. Just saying.)

Taman Sari Water Castle, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Ruins of the Taman Sari Water Castle

Taman Sari Water Castle, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
An underground walkway connecting the market from to the Taman Sari Water Castle

Taman Sari Water Castle, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
The Taman Sari Water Castle was built in the mid-1700s by a Portuguese architect as a recreational facility for the sultans.

Taman Sari Water Castle, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
The sultan's swimming pools are still maintained for visitors. Truth be told, they are quite inviting.

Taman Sari Water Castle, Yogyakarta, Indonesia
Many of the structures in the Taman Sari Water Castle are no longer in use, but the maze of alleyways and shacks here now house local homes and shops.

While the Kraton is not as grand as the ancient temples surrounding it—Prambanan and Borobudur, the similarities I encountered between Javanese culture and that of my own country, the Philippines, were definitely intriguing. The Javanese ratu and the Filipino datu; the Javanese script and how it was related to the oldest known written document in the Philippines, the Laguna Copperplate; and, many other similar cultural artifacts. It really did make wonder. If the Philippines had not been so heavily Christianized and hispanized by our colonial masters from Spain (or more accurately, New Spain), would we have maintained our strong historical and cultural ties with the Javanese? I may not have the answers today, but it surely did make me want to find out more about Java and the rest of the Philippines' neighbors to the south, Indonesia.


Any culture related to yours fascinated you, too?


Hi there, traveler! Did you like this post? Got any comments? Do leave me a message below. A RETWEET or a LIKE would be very much appreciated, too. Sharing buttons can be found at the beginning of this post and below. You can also subscribe to this site to get new posts via email:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...