Countries | Indonesia | SURAKARTA

Sixty-five kilometres northeast of Yogya stands quiet, leafy low-rise Surakarta, or, as it's more commonly known, Solo. This is the older of the two royal cities in Central Java, and its ruling family can lay claim to being the rightful heirs to the Mataram dynasty. Like Yogya, Solo has two royal palaces and a number of museums, yet its tourist industry is nowhere near as developed. The city's main source of income is from textiles, and Solo has the biggest batik market on Java. Solo also makes an ideal base from which to visit the home of Java Man at Sangiran, as well as the intriguing temples Candi Ceto and Candi Sukuh.

Up until 1744, Solo was little more than a quiet backwater village, 10km east of Kartasura, the contemporary capital of the Mataram kingdom. But in that year the Mataram susuhunan, Pakubuwono II, backed the Chinese against the Dutch, and the court at Kartasura was sacked as a result. Pakubuwono II searched for a more auspicious spot to rebuild his capital, and in 1757 a rival royal house of Mangkunegoro was established right in the centre of Solo. Thereafter, Solo's royal houses wisely avoided fighting and instead threw their energies into the arts, developing a highly sophisticated and graceful court culture. The gamelan pavilions became the new theatres of war, with each city competing to produce the more refined court culture - a situation that continues to this day.

Surakarta City Map

Population: 530.089
Country: Indonesia
Main language: Bahasa Indonesia
Time: GMT/UTC +7
Telephone Area Code: 0271