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"Bengawan Solo"
by Gesang


Surakarta or more famous as Solo is lying across in fertile plain terrain along the longest river in Java, Bengawan or River Solo. Flanked by mountain volcanoes Merapi and Merbabu in the north, and mount Lawu in the southeast border, is famous as a stronghold and center of Javanese culture and tradition.

The tranquil town of Solo with its charming and soft-spoken people has several amazing names as a sign of adoration, such as: the city that never sleeps, the center of culture and the city of pleasure. Some foreign travelers say that Solo is the least westernized town in Central Java.

Slametriadi Road
Slamet Riyadi Avenue


The history of Solo is unseparable with ancient time, with the discovery of 'Java man' in the village of Sangiran in Sragen Regency, Hindu – Buddhist Temples and the existence of old Palaces of Javanese Sultans.

In the down town of the city, along the wide green Slamet Riyadi Avenue, at the cross road of Sudirman, turn south cross the Alun-alun Utara (North Square), That is the Karaton Surakarta Hadiningrat, with the present king Sri Susuhunan Paku Buwono XII. It is opened daily at 08.30 am – 02.00 pm, Friday is closed.

In the middle of the town in the North of Slamet Riyadi Avenue is another palace, Puro Mangkunagaran. The present king is Sri Mangkunagoro IX. It is opened daily at 09.00 am – 02.00 pm, Sunday 09.00 am – 01.00 pm.

Both palaces have their own excellent programs to be adored by tourists, among other; court dance, gamelan music performance, museums, etc.

Karaton Kartosuro
Located 10 km west of Solo, the remnant of the palace is there. It was the center power of Mataram for 60 (sixty) years until 1745.

Karaton Pajang
Also located in Kartosuro, in the village of Makam Haji, Pajang. Some believe that it was the site of Karaton Pajang under Sultan Hadiwijaya who reigned between 1540 – 1580.

Museum Radya Pustaka
It was built in 1890, located at JL. Slamet Riyadi. The statue of Ronggowarsito, a Karaton poet of the past stands in the front yard. It has a good collection of antiquities, gamelan, keris, puppets, scroll of wayang beber, some Javanese and Dutch books. Open daily 08.00 AM - 01.00 PM, Friday 08.00 AM - 11.00 AM, Monday closed

Radya Pustaka Museum
Museum Radya Pustaka

Stasiun Balapan
The main railway station with colonial style building located around 2 km from the center of the town. Solo is in the main railway roads connecting Jakarta, Yogyakarta and Surabaya. It has also connection with Bandung. There are frequent day and night trains of different classes.

The grave of Ki Ageng Enis
He was the great grand son of King Brawijaya V, the grand father of Panembahan Senopati (the First king of Mataram Kingdom II), many pilgrims visit his grave in Laweyan.

The Bengawan or River Solo
This longest river in Java flows along the eastern edge of the town from its source in the lime stones hill of the south, near East Java border to its mouth nearby Surabaya, on the Java sea.
Regretfully, the river is now shallow, it is not navigable anymore. But in the past It was an important link between Solo and the north cost of East Java. There is a well-known song 'Bengawan Solo' composed by Mr. Gesang.


The main avenue is Jl. Slamet Riyadi, in the center of the city is the favorite thoroughfare of Solo. Many hotels, restaurants and offices are located along and around this avenue. This developing city has some places of interest among other :

Press Museum
The only press museum in the country. It has collections of newspapers, bulletins and magazines from the colonial time to present date.

Dullah Museum
Dullah is one of Indonesia's famous painter and artist. This museum is located on Jl. DR. Cipto, displaying his painting and his collection of antiques, ceramics and crafts.
Open daily 08.00 am to noon, Monday is closed.

Sriwedari Park
It is a recreation park with gardens, theaters and restaurants, located in the center of the city. Locally known as 'Kebon Rojo', the king's garden.

Bale Kambang
It is a shady tree park for entertainment.

Jurug Park
A recreation center on the bank of Bengawan Solo, with a zoo, children's playground, etc.

Pasar Gede
It is the biggest traditional market in downtown selling all manner of produce.

Pasar Gede (Big Market)
Pasar Gede

Pasar Depok
It is an interesting outdoor market with many collections of colorful tropical birds located at the north west end of Jl. R.M. Said.

Mesjid Agung
Located on the westward of Alun-alun Lor (North Square), it is the largest mosque in Solo. The dominant architecture is Javanese.

Gereja (Church) St. Antonius
The biggest church in Purbayan, Solo.

Vihara Rahayu
It is a Chinese Buddhist Temple on Jl. Karaton, southward of Jl. Slamet Riyadi.

Pura Mandira Seta
A Hindu Shrine and a place of learning Yoga for local and foreign people at Jl. Sidikara 2, east of Karaton

Pasar Klewer
Off the west gate of Karaton's North Square, this old market selling all kinds of fabrics, predominantly batik. Other traditional fabrics are lurik (hand-woven striped cotton cloth) and tenun ikat.
There are hundreds of shops jammed along narrow passageways. Visitors must be prepared to bargain.

Pasar Klewer (Klewer MArket)
Pasar Klewer

Pasar Triwindu
Located nearby Mangkunagaran Palace, it is Solo antique market where devotee of bric–a-brac, curiosities, crafts, etc should see. There are lamps of varied ornaments and sizes, dinner and tea sets, goblets, vases and various kinds of souvenirs with beautiful motifs. The buyers should know the technique of bargaining.

Art Shop
Pasar Triwindu

Jamu (Herbal Medicine) and Traditional Cosmetics
The Solonese is expert of jamu since ancient period. In the old days, the herb leaves were boiled in water before being drunk that's why the name is jamu godog (boiled herbal medicine).
Nowadays, it is more practical, there are powder, pills and capsules. There are also some lotion and ointment for outside application.
For more detail information on jamu and traditional cosmetics manufacturers and sellers, click the related business section.

Art Shops and Craft Centers
As a fortress of culture and tradition, a traveler should see various traditional art and crafts such as wayang (leather puppets), gamelan, batik, keris, etc in every corner of the city. For more detail information of above subjects, kindly click the related articles, for seeing and purchasing click 'Art Shops and Craft Centers'.

Solo Baru
A new modern city was born in Solo, it is Solo Baru, located southward of the city, in the regency of Sukoharjo, on the way to Wonogiri. It is a modern real estate compound complete with the necessary facilities, comfortable to live in.

A leisure walk along Jl. Secoyudan, the 'Gold Smith Street' could be entertaining. The sound of Gamelan music from recorded cassette tapes could be enjoyed. A popular local music of Solo is the 'Kroncong' beat. Besides the specific beat, the words of the songs are important. The kroncong songs usually adore the natural beauty and the rare beauty of the Solo ladies like in the song of 'Putri Solo' - The Lady of Solo'.

Batik Course
For those who are interested in deeper knowledge of batik manufacturing, short batik courses are available, among other in a alley near Warung Baru and in Kauman, off Jl. Yos Sudarso.
Kindly note that Solo is also The City of Batik, with leading Batik Exporters in the country.
For further information about Batik, click here.

The workshop of gamelan is in Bekonang Village, Sukoharjo/Karanganyar or Hajar Satoto's Place in Kartosuro.
For further information about Gamelan, click here.

Solo is also famous with its Keris collection, old and new makes. There are some experts of Keris for consultation among other Herri Sutrisno and Hajar Satoto, and the foundation of keris devotees of Solo (Bowo Roso), Fauzan and Harjonagoro.
For further information about keris, click here.

Wayang Kulit (Leather Puppets)

It is possible for someone to choose or to order directly a specific wayang at the workshop (Please see the directory of Artshops and Crafts, which make wayang).
For further information about Wayang, click here.

There are some mystical groups in Surakarta locally known as Kebatinan. Some well-known Piyayi Sepuh (high Language) or Wong Tuwo (common Javanese language) means wise persons live in this city. Usually they are ready to give spiritual consultation, to name few are :

  • Princess G.R.Ay. Brotodiningrat (about 80 years old), a daughter of Sri PAkubuwono X.
  • Pak A. Suyono, Jl. Ranggawarsito 60
  • Pak Suwondo, Jl. Karatonan, Gang I.
  • Some meditators which could be contacted at Joyokusuman guesthouse and others.
  • K.R.H.T. Kusumotanoyo (spiritual advisor to Surakarta Palace)
  • R.M. Adiarso and his wife, Jl. Kebangkitan Nasional 60

(Suryo S. Negoro)


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