I really have no concrete plans on my 2nd full day in Solo. The night’s full rest with no alarm to wake me up made me feel rejuvenated. Originally, I was planning to stay in town but during breakfast, I was approached by a man named Wazit who offered his motorbike service to Sukuh and Cetho. He seemed okay and the price was reasonable. I was looking into going there as well so I agreed to tour with him later after lunch. But that morning I wanted to continue my walk and this time at the inner streets of the city towards one of the Kratons (Palace) in Solo – The Surakarta Kraton or Keraton Kasunanan.
Walk to the Palace
It took me a while to find the Surakarta Kraton. Following my map, I had to make my way down south from where I was staying at Cakra Homestay through a maze of inner street of Batik Sellers and souvenir shops. Passed by mosque and a school which lead me to a large open field where I almost got side-tracked but found a way back to a market. The road was paved but dusty with several small shops and line of becak (pedicabs) waiting for customers. A quiet street with high walls led me to an intersection that finally led me to the Kraton.
The Surakarta Kraton
The facade was the first thing I saw of the kraton. They call this gate the Baelroto in Kemandungan Lor which is the entrance to the main compound. This one is not open for the public though. The guard there pointed me to the direction of the main entrance. Is stayed a bit to admire the Javanese Style seen at the woodwork found at the gate. Statues guard the entrance and from the street point of view the clock tower called Panggung Songgobuwono behind the walls can also be seen.
There was an IDR 15,000 (US$1.5) entrance fee and they would ask if I would like to be accompanied by a guide. I decided not to get a guide and went inside. The Surakarta Kraton is the palace of Pakubuwono Kings built-in 1675. The architecture is a good mix of Javanese and European styles.
There are two main courtyards where the visitors are allowed. Parts of the main courtyard and residence are off-limits to visitors. One could notice some renaissance style statues guarding some post clearly of Javanese design. The other courtyard is the museum area where antiques and items from the royal family are displayed.
For a palace Surakarta Kraton felt underwhelming. I could imagine the design and the place itself could have been grand in its prime but right now it feels neglected. I heard that there wasn’t enough funding to fuel the maintenance of the palace.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.