Yogyakarta - Abbey Travel, Ireland

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Welcome to Yogyakarta


'Yogya', as it is known, is one of the most attractive and ancient historical cities in Java. It was established in 1755 when Prince Mangkubumi built the Kraton Palace, called himself Sultan and created the most powerful Javanese Kingdom since the 17th century. Today it remains a symbol of resistance to Dutch Colonial rule, as well as the centre for classical Javanese art and culture, including batik, Ramayana ballet, shadow puppetry and music.

At its heart lies the quaint Old City with the elegant Sultan's Palace at its centre, containing the Water Palace, an interesting bird market and several museums and galleries. Guarded by traditionally dressed gentlemen, the splendid interior features extravagant pavilions and courtyards. Leading away from the centre are boulevards and backstreets filled with the confusion of labyrinthine markets containing galleries, shops and numerous other craft industries - a shopper's paradise for souvenirs and Javanese art. The silver centre of Yogya, Kota Gede, has streets lined with silver workshops creating the well-known distinctive design and variety of silver pieces. Workshops allow the visitor the opportunity to watch traditional art in action. On every corner becaks (bicycle rickshaws) clamour for business, eventually wobbling their way down the windy streets with bargain-weary passengers inside.

With its ancient historical city, museums, cultural performances, lively atmosphere and an abundance of accommodation and restaurants, as well as its proximity to two of the most impressive religious monuments in the country, it is no wonder that this splendid city is a major stop on the tourist route.

Information & Facts


Yogyakarta is characterised by a tropical climate with warm weather throughout the year and two main seasons. The dry season, from May to September, is when Yogyakarta experiences dry and sunny weather with average temperatures reaching around 88F (31C). In the wet season from October to April the Monsoon arrives bringing with it plenty of wet weather. December, January, February and March are the wettest months and tropical storms are common; this is consequently not the best time to visit Yogykarta.

Bahasa Indonesia is the official language, but many dialects are spoken. English is widely understood in Jakarta and tourist resorts.

Rupiah (IDR) is the official currency and is divided into 100 sen. Foreign currency can easily be exchanged at banks, hotels and money changers in major tourist destinations; US dollars is the most accepted currency. Cash often yields a better exchange rate than travellers cheques, which are not always accepted. It is recommended that travellers cheques also be in US dollars. Most major credit cards are accepted at hotels, restaurants and stores catering to the tourist trade. ATMs are available in main centres. Small change is often unavailable so keep small denomination notes and coins for items like bus fares, temple donations and cool drinks.

Indonesia spans three time zones. GMT +7 (West, including Java and Sumatra), GMT +8 (Central, including Bali, Sulawesi and Lombok), GMT +9 (East, including Irian Jaya).

One of the greatest Buddhist monuments in South East Asia, Borobudur was built in the 8th century and stands on top of a hill surrounded by volcanoes and overlooking green fields. It is an immense multi-tiered structure with the Great Stupa (bell-shaped monument) at the top standing 128ft (40m) above the ground, surrounded by numerous smaller stupas, some still containing Buddha statues inside. It is part of a 2.5 mile long (4km) chain of smaller temples, with the Mendut Temple containing three exquisitely carved giant statues of Buddha and two disciples inside. The terraces of Borobudur are covered in sculpted reliefs, with narrative panels illustrating Buddhist beliefs and teachings, and covering an estimated length of 3.5 miles (6km). These masterpieces of individual artistic value have been acknowledged as the most complete and splendid collection of Buddhist reliefs in the world. Built out of millions of blocks of the local volcanic rock joined without the use of mortar, it is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is the primary tourist attraction in Java. The temple lies 25 miles (41km) northwest of Yogyakarta.

Shadow Puppet performances have become a part of Indonesia's cultural heritage. The puppets are lovingly handcrafted out of buffalo or goatskin with moveable limbs that are worked by a highly skilled puppeteer from behind a backlit screen, casting the shadows of the puppets into a spellbinding story. The puppeteer is usually the director, producer and main narrator of the shadow world. The stories have their origins in classic Hindu mythologies and Ramayana tales and are narrated in the local dialects.

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