Yogyakarta, stretched out from the base of the active Merapi volcano to the vast
Indian Ocean, is one of Indonesia’s 33 provinces and an important centre of
Javanese culture. Yogyakarta is often referred to as the gateway to Central Java
because of its ideal geographical location; it is easily accessible by road, and
there are regular air and train services.
During the 16th and 17th centuries, Yogyakarta was the seat of the grand
Javanese Mataram Empire and even today this city has an enchanting effect on
its visitors. It is celebrated for its classical and contemporary Javanese dances,
traditional Wayang puppetry and music. Apart from a rich and long-established
culture, Yogyakarta is also a sparkling city and a true shopper’s delight. It is also
the only major city where the traditional Becak or rickshaw-style transport is in
Yogyakarta’s main attraction is the Sultan’s Palace or Kraton. This enormous
complex of crumbling structures was built in the 18th century and is actually a
walled city within the city, with luxurious pavilions in which the current Sultan
Founded in 1755, Yogyakarta was the capital of the Mataram Kingdom when
Dutch explorers turned up and granted the Yogyakarta kings by title Sultan of
the Yogyakarta territory. It was also the scene of Indonesia’s most successful
rebellions against the Dutch: Prince Diponegoro instigated a holy war against
colonial rule from 1825 to 1830 and Yogyakarta also operated as the capital of
the newly independent republic after World War II when the Dutch reoccupied
People have always been attracted to the Yogyakarta region because of its rich
soil resulting the numerous volcanic eruptions. The earliest recorded history
dates back to the 9th century and is dominated by Hindu and Buddhist
kingdoms. These monarchies gave rise to the marvellous temples of Prambanan,
Ratu Boko, Kalasan, Sambisari and Borobodur. In the early 18th century,
Pakubuwono II ruled the Mataram kingdom.
As a result of a conflict between his
son and his brother after his death, the kingdom was divided into the Surakarta
Hadiningrat Kingdom under Sultan Pakubuwono III, and the Nyayogyakarta
Hadiningrat Kingdom under Sultan Hamengku Buwono I. This last one was the
founder of the present line of sultans who still reside in the Kraton and play an
important role in today’s Javanese culture. It was this second kingdom that was
later named Yogyakarta.
Because of its central location, Yogyakarta is perfectly positioned for the
economic network in Java as well as a gateway to Indonesia’s main tourist
destinations: Jakarta and West Java westward, Central Java northward and East
Java and Bali eastward.
Climate and weather
Situated approximately seven degrees south of the equator, Yogyakarta has a
tropical monsoon climate, with a short dry period and a long wet season. Usually,
there is no rainfall from May to August and therefore, the atmosphere feels hot
and humid during the day and cool during the night and early morning. The
monthly rainfall varies from 3mm to 496mm, with those above 300mm
occurring between January and April. It is essential to note that it does not rain
all day and most downpours come in the late afternoon with dry but humid
weather during the day.
Most of Yogyakarta’s inhabitants are Javanese whose language originates from
ancient Sanskrit. Due to the numerous educational centres, Yogyakarta is
considered to be Indonesia’s academic city and many of its citizens are students
from other Indonesian provinces.
As the former capital and centre of several kingdoms, the Yogyakarta region and
its inhabitants have a rich cultural background. The civilization, art and culture
have developed really well in the Ancient Mataram Kingdom (8th – 10th
century), the second Mataram Kingdom (17th – 18th century) and the
Ngayogyokarto Sultanate from the mid 18th century up until today. As a result of
its abundant traditions, Yogyakarta has long been known as the cradle of
Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple and unique in structure and
carvings compared to similar temples in Asia. During Waisak day, thousands of
Buddhists do their pilgrimage in Borobudur.
Prambanan is a definite must-see for anyone who visits the Yogyakarta area.
While Borobodur is shaped like a flattened pyramid, Prambanan is characterized
by its typical tall and pointed Hindu architecture. This impressive 9th century
temple is one of the largest Hindu temples in Southeast Asia and there is no
doubt you will be dazzled when you see the looming yet mesmerizing temple for
the first time.
The historic neighbourhood of Kotagede located six kilometres to the Southeast
of Yogyakarta, is home to the remains of Mataram Sultanate’s first capital and
includes a palace (Kraton), a market (Pasar), a mosque (Masjid) and a square
(Alun-Alun). These four elements indicate the presence of a strong bond among
the government, economy, religion and community.
Mount Nglanggeran is an ancient volcano believed to be active many millions of
years ago and has a western and an eastern peak with a caldera in the middle.
Nowadays it is a giant boulder and serves as an area of conservation, education
and sustainable development. It has been qualified as a geopark (International
Earth Park) and is waiting to be officially designated as Indonesia’s first geopark.
Parangtritis Beach sand dunes
The Parangtritis sand dunes were shaped during thousands of years of natural
process. Its sand is believed to be volcanic material erupted by Mount Merapi
and flowed to the Opak and Progo estuaries in the South Sea. Strong currents
took these materials to the shore where they dried in the tropical sun. Since
Parangitritis beach is bordered by limestone hills, this sand could not pass the
hills and fell in front of them. The wind caused the sand to become uniquely
shaped sand dunes, where one can enjoy the special scenery or try exhilarating