The Kraton (Palace) was built in 1755 after the division of Mataram and the establishment of the sultanate of Yogyakarta. It is a vast complex of courtyards, halls and pavilions in Javanese traditional architecture. Construction of the innermost group of courtyards and pavilions was completed in 1757, which corresponds with the Javanese year 1682. This date is portrayed on the lintel of the entrance gate by two snakes facing opposite directions with their tails entwined.
The most important structures of this palace, located in the central courtyard, are the Bangsal Kencono or Golden Pavilion with its annexing Proboyekso pavilion. The Golden Pavilion, like most of the halls, is an open structure. It is most ornately carved wooden beams. Here, the Sultan used to receive royal guests, give dance performances by specially trained court dancers, and held balls and banquets on great state occasions, The Kraton is the centre of activity during the Grebeg pagearitries which are held three times a year coinciding with the three most important holidays on the Islamic calendar.
Nowadays, the Kraton is no longer the seat of power but is still houses among other things; the royal heirlooms and arms, the royal collection of magnificent bejewelled leather wayang puppets, the royal carriages and many ornaments of European and Indonesian origin, many of them gifts from royal guests in the past.
Kraton retainers wear traditional dress of dark batik sarongs, tight jacket, keris (wavy double-bladed dagger)and batik head wear. The Kraton is open to visitors, passes to be obtained at the "Tepas Pariwisata" (Tourist Service) office near the main entrance gate at the Keben courtyard.
photo by MZ Gani