The Indonesian city of Yogyakarta rests on central Java, between the cool breezes of the Indian Ocean and the steamy breath of volcanoes. It’s a scenic train ride from Jakarta, or a short flight from Bali or Singapore.
The home of sultans, artists and the devout since the 8th century, Yogyakarta is the gentle epicenter of classical Javanese culture and education. Step from the main station into the bustling flow of Jalan Malioboro, and you could be in just about any Javanese city. This is where Jogja, as the city is known, comes to wander, shop, and snack,…but refinement, is just a becak ride away.
Cruise down Jalan Malioboro to the very soul of the city, the Kraton. Since 1785 this city within a city has been the home of sultans, and the keeping place of Yogyakarta’s incredible cultural, intellectual and spiritual traditions. While the inner palace serves as the royal family’s private home, the ceremonial courtyards, …pavilions…and museums are open to all. Nearby, visit Taman Sari, the water palace where sultans of old – and their chosen few could escape the demands of duty, and the Javanese sun.
Yogyakarta’s courtly center sets the tone of Javanese culture, and from here the island’s arts flow forth in all their purest forms. In the gamelan’s percussive magic, which drifts across the Kraton’s walls to far-off kampongs, inspiring the maestros of tomorrow. In the ageless shadows of the Wayang Kulit puppets, who pass thousand-year-old stories of good and evil across the ages. In the fine strands of silver, which have been woven into delicate artworks for centuries. In a cuisine that leans toward sweetness rather than fire, …and in the molten beeswax making its rhythmic marks across the finest batiks.
While Jogja is a place of tradition, it’s also a place of ever-evolving culture. Just a few steps from the Kraton, walk the lanes of Kampong Cyber, where the community has combined street art with online expression to forge new creative possibilities. A short becak ride away is the Affandi Museum, the former home, gallery and resting place of the maverick artist who loosened the binds of tradition, and created a seismic shift in Indonesian painting.
Jogja has long been at the epicenter of political and ideological shifts as well. Just across from the presidential palace, pass through the gates of Fort Vredeburg to hear the stories of resistance and sacrifice that led to the creation of the Indonesian Republic. Just 10 miles to the north-east of Jogja, venture back to the eighth and ninth centuries, to a time when Buddhism and Hinduism vied for the kingdom’s hearts and minds.
Prambanan is the heart of a Hindu temple network that stretches for miles. Pay your respects at the towering temples of Shiva, Vishnu and Brahma, then follow the bas-relief panels in a clock-wise direction to see epic Hindu tales unfold from within the stone. Just a half hour stroll from the main complex is Ratu Boko, where palatial remains frame the same views to Mount Merapi once enjoyed by the visiting princes who rested here after long days of devotion.
Yogyakarta sits at the doorstep of incredible Buddhist monasteries and temples too. While many stand shoulder to shoulder with the Hindu temples of the Prambanan Plain, the greatest of them all, Borobudur, lies 20 miles to the northwest. Borobudur is the world’s largest Buddhist temple, and one of the most visited sights on all of Indonesia’s 13,000 islands.
Come early for a sunrise you’ll never forget, as hundreds of stone Buddhas bless the new day’s light, just as they have for over a millennia. Yogyakarta is more than just a city; it’s a kingdom. Climb aboard a dokar and ride though the immaculate farmlands and kampongs of the rural heartlands, where life’s necessities and pleasures are still handmade, and made with heart. Meet the people who live calmly and creatively within the shadow of Mount Merapi, an active volcano whose moods have been known to topple temples and bury villages with ash.
In our unsteady, rapidly-changing world, deep cultural roots anchor us to all that is important. Culture teaches us to embrace and appreciate the meaning in all of life’s moments, from the richest to the ordinary. If that’s the kind of journey you’re looking for, take a ride through Yogyakarta, a cultural kingdom that steadies the spirit, and inspires the soul.
Join us in the bustling flow of Yogyakarta, a city that keeps alive a sense of spirit and rhythm from the serenity of its temples to the energy of its streets.
The Indonesian city of Yogyakarta rests in central Java, between the cool breezes of the Indian Ocean and the steamy breath of volcanoes.
Vacation here and join the kings, sultans, artists and the devout that have called Yogyakarta home since the 8th-century. Venture through this gentle epicenter of Javanese classical culture and education. Just 10 miles to the north east of the city, venture back to the eighth and ninth centuries, to a time when Buddhism and Hinduism vied for the kingdom’s hearts and minds. Or choose to #visit Prambanan, the heart of a Hindu temple network that stretches for miles, and Borobudur, the world’s largest Buddhist temple.
#Explore the rural back roads and meet the villagers who live calmly and creatively within the shadow of Mount Merapi, one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. Despite the tremors of our unsteady, ever-changing world, Yogyakarta is a place that steadies the spirit, and inspires the soul.
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