Astana Giribangun

Central Java

The hilltop mausoleum of former president Suharto occupies a commanding position, 34km southeast of Solo. Suharto planned this monument well in advance of his death, securing the land and appointing an architect in 1998. Unlike the majestic location, however, the building – an unadorned mosque-like structure, built on traditional Javanese pendopo (pavilion) lines – is surprisingly modest and lacking in the gaudy excesses favoured by many ex-dictators. It certainly gives little hint of Sulharto's cult-like status during his term as president.

Tombs of various less-favoured relatives are dotted around the edges of the building, while the inner sanctum, separated by carved wooden screens, contains five marble sarcophagi belonging to Suharto, his mother, father, wife and one sister. Few visitors pay their respects these days – in stark contrast to the tens of thousands who, in 2008, lined the route of his funeral cortège from Solo airport. The burial ground of Solo’s royal Mangkunegara family lies 300m beyond, on a wooded hilltop; its modest monuments pale in comparison.

There's a cafe and a souvenir stall at the complex. There is no public transport connecting this peaceful site to Solo, but guides in the city include Giribangun on trips to Candi Sukuh and Candi Cetho.

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