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Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta is well-known as one of Indonesia's art centres. It is impossible to separate Yogyakarta from culture where it is deeply rooted in the life and traditions of the people.

In this town you will find much that is quintessential Indonesia: Towering volcanoes, verdant rice terraces, royal palaces, anciente temples, intricately patterned batik and graceful dances. Impressive archaeological sites remains such as the temples of Borobudur which is still the world's largest Buddhist Monument, and the magnificent Hindu Temple at Prambanan. From Jogyakarta one can travel easily to the Borobudur and Prambanan temples, which are half-day trips from the city

The 300 year old city of Jogyakarta is the cultural heart of Java. Here also is Indonesia's oldest palace 'The Kraton,' still the domicile of Jogya's royalty. Even now the current Sultan of Jogyakarta retains remarkable political prestige. Jogyakarta offers an abundance of Javanese art, painting, silverwork, batik handcraft, traditional Javanese dances, gamelan music, wayang shadow puppetry, as well as contemporary art.

Most areas of interest centre around Jalan Malioboro, whose wide, canopied sidewalks offer shelter from the mid-afternoon heat and by night turn into a colourful street market where you can buy leathergoods, textiles, batiks, wayang puppets and much more. Close to the extraordinary monuments of Borobudur and Prambanan, the silversmiths' village of Kota Gede and the beaches at Parangtritis.

The gamelan bronze gong orchestra is as much a part of Java as rice fields and volcanoes. An ancient, sophisticated and complex musical form, the gamelan accompanies every ceremonial occasion, from the coronation of the Sultan to the arrival of a tourist group in a hotel lobby. And no art form captures the essence of Java better than the wayang, the shadow puppet theatre which summons forth omniscient gods, heavenly nymphs, monstrous ogres, noble kings and skillful warriors, in a magical, flickering display.

SOLO
Surakarta or Solo is the second city of the Javanese cultural heartland. Although smaller than Yogyakarta, Solo is a centre of the arts and home to two keraton or royal palaces. The larger, Keraton Kasunanan is a large and fascinating complex which easily deserves a full day visit. The junior branch of the Solo royal family occupies Pura Mangkunegaran, an attractive, more intimate complex which blends European elegance with Javanese architectural styles. In Solo you'll also find a huge textile market,a bird market and flea market, plus a choice of dance and cultural performances.

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yogyakarta, central java