Discovery >

Why it’s Good to Get Lost in Yogyakarta

February 12, 2018 by Khiri Travel | Filed Under: , ,

Getting lost is part of traveling and Kotagede, a historic neighbourhood of Yogyakarta, is the perfect place to do so. Mostly known for its silversmiths, not many travelers look beyond the neighborhood’s workshops to wander around its maze of alleyways, narrow walkways and distinctive Javanese architecture.

Now only one of many neighborhoods in Yogyakarta, Kotagede dates back to 1570 when it became the first capital of the powerful Mataram Kingdom of central Java. The city layout was typical Javanese with its kraton (sultan’s palace), central mosque, alun-alun (palace square) and pasar (market), all of which were enclosed by a city wall.

Space was limited within the walls so everyone living in the area was related in some way to the sultan’s family by blood or as a servant. Business flourished because of all the renowned craftsmen working for the sultan. Kotagede was famous for copper, leather, and of course, silver.

In 1755, the Mataram Kingdom was split into two branches: Solo and Yogyakarta. Kotagede lost part of its power to the neighboring sultanate of Yogyakarta. However, since all the sultans were buried at the cemetery in Kotagede, the old neighborhood still holds special status for all Javanese, even to this day.


The juru kunci – custodians of ancestral graves and sacred sites in Java – were appointed by the sultan to take care of the royal graves. Originally, the juru kunci were the most powerful group in Kotagede, but times changed and gradually wealthy merchants replaced them as the most influential group.

Indonesia is a land in transition and Yogyakarta is no exception with its changing urban landscape. However, when travelers walk around in Kotagede it seems as if time stands still. The alleyways are still there and the local people take care of each other like they have been doing for centuries.

Visitors to this historic neighborhood can still stumble upon craftsmen working in one of the many small family-owned workshops, or neighbors sitting together exchanging the latest gossip. Even the juru kunci are still there – only as volunteers – but still taking pride in maintaining the graves and serving as guides to visitors.

For more information about our trips and authentic experiences with us, please contact [email protected] or Herman — see the information in the yellow box below.

[expert-call-out-box id = ‘16751’]

Latest post

Respecting the Past, Khiri Travel Moves to New Office in Yangon

Khiri Travel Myanmar has moved to a new office in a historically significant part of Yangon, in Bogalay Zay Street.

Read More

Spotlight On Global Discovery Member Rob de Laet

he first Global Discovery member to introduce is Rob de Laet (58).

Read More

Khiri Staff Join WTM World Responsible Tourism Day

To embrace WTM World Responsible Tourism Day, Khiri Travel staff today donate time and money to our charity arm Khiri Reach and plant trees.

Read More

Forest knowledge training for Khiri Travel guides

Late August, Khiri Travel conducted forest knowledge training for nine trekking guides in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand. The objective was to enhance the quality of Khiri’s treks by improving the information given to guests about forest ecosystems and land

Read More

Sign Up for Our Newletter