A cultural heart

Central Java’s royal city of Solo (Surakarta) has long cultivated its reputation as the heartland of refined Javanese culture, home to princes and poets, sacred and mystical dances performed by elegant beauties, and shadowy tales of the wayan kulit reflecting the heavens and more terrestrial affairs.

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Born of epic power struggles, this quintessential Javanese town is often eclipsed by its more prominent rival, Yogyakarta, but the charms of this unhurried traditional centre prevail. A wander in any backstreet kampung is as fascinating and revealing of the essence of Solo as stepping into the courtly royal palaces, or indeed the glitzy malls. Tradition and culture hold fast in conservative Solo in some extent to the extremes, leading rise to a bad (and not undeserved) reputation for propagating zealots and radicals. Despite all this, Solo remains safe for visitors and the overwhelming majority of locals are very welcoming towards foreigners.

You should expect plenty of this in and around Solo. : Sally Arnold.
You should expect plenty of this in and around Solo. Photo: Sally Arnold

Geographically Solo is close to the heartland of Java (although the true geographical centre is closer to the Dieng Plateau), residing on the western bank of the Bengawan Solo, Java’s longest river made famous by a popular Indonesia song, shadowed by Gunung Lawu to the east and Gunung Merbabu and Gunung Merapi to the west. Yogyakarta is 65 kilometres to Solo’s southwest, about one hour by train, and Semerang lies 100 kilometres to ... Travelfish members only (Full text is around 1,500 words.)

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