If Jakarta is Java’s financial and industrial powerhouse, Yogyakarta is its soul. Central to the island’s artistic and intellectual heritage, Yogyakarta (pronounced ‘Jogjakarta’), called Yogya for short, is where the Javanese language is at its purest, Java’s arts at their brightest and its traditions at their most visible.
Fiercely independent and protective of its customs, Yogya is now the site of an uneasy truce between the old ways of life and the trappings of modernity that have swept across the island in recent decades. Still headed by its sultan, whose kraton remains the hub of traditional life, contemporary Yogya is nevertheless as much a city of burger bars, traffic jams and advertising hoardings as batik, gamelan and ritual. But while the process of modernisation homogenises many of Java’s cities, Yogya continues to juggle past and present with relative ease, sustaining a slower, more conservative way of life in the quiet kampung that thrive only a stone’s throw from the throbbing main streets.
Yogya’s potency has long outweighed its size, and it remains Java’s premier tourist city, with countless hotels, restaurants and attractions of its own. It is also an ideal base for exploring nearby attractions, including Indonesia’s most important archaeological sites, Borobudur and Prambanan.
Last updated: Feb 17, 2009