Jogjakarta (Jogja), also often spelled as Yogyakarta, is a city in Central Java, Indonesia, and has for centuries been the cultural capital of Java. With its palaces, museums and countless art galleries, Jogja is definitely worth a visit of at least a few days. At the centre of the city is the beautiful kraton, or the Sultan’s palace – Jogja is the capital of the province of the same name which is ruled by a Sultan.
Things to do and see in Yogyakarta
The Kraton is a wonderful showcase of craftmanship with its rich wood carvings and reliefs. It’s also a great venue to catch fascinating cultural performances, like the gamelan. The nearby ‘Water palace’ is also worth a visit. Jalan Malioboro, with its shops, cafés, restaurants, markets, sidewalk stalls and hotels is the city’s main thoroughfare. You could spend a whole day just browsing around the arts and crafts stores. If you’re tired from all that walking, hop onto one of the many bechaks (tricycle taxis) for a unique local experience. Jogja is especially famed for its silverware, batik paintings and Indonesian puppets (used in the traditional wayang or puppet shows). Don’t forget to bargain!
Jogja is a great base from which to explore the historical treasures in the area, such as the Borobudur and the Prambanan. In addition, it is also possible to arrange day trips from Jogja to the nearby volcanos, Merapi (one of Indonesia’s most active) and the Daeng Plateau (the drive to the plateau passes quaint villages and rice terraces, and the mountain scenery is simply astounding).
Borobudur is a magnificent Buddhist monument situated approximately 45 kilometers from Jogja. The complex, the largest Buddhist monument in the world, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main monument of the huge complex consists of six step-like square platforms, three circular platforms and topped by a dome, and is richly decorated with thousands of stunning reliefs and several hundred Buddhas. Built in the ninth century AD, the complex is amazingly well-preserved while its immense size and beautiful reliefs that illustrate the life of Lord Buddha (all 2,672 of them) are truly impressive.
Also located in the vicinity of Jogja is one of the most beautiful Hindu temple complexes I’ve ever seen: Prambanan. This complex, dominated by a stunning 47 meter tower, is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and exudes a mythical aura that is simply breathtaking. The area around Prambanan boasts other Hindu and Buddhist architectural jewels such as the Plaosan temple.
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