Solo, Batik and the Spirit of Java

When people are talking about the city of Solo, many are asking where is Solo and how far from Yogyakarta? Even when we are talking about the culture of Java, many relate it to Yogyakarta. For the Javanese, those questions are a bit strange, but not for foreigners. For them, the Solo is Yogyakarta. They’re not entirely wrong. Somehow, we should acknowledged that Yogyakarta more popular than Solo.

Geographically, Solo the sort name for Surakarta lies some 60 Kilometers east of Yogyakarta. We can go to Solo using personal vehicle, bus or train. We can also go to Solo using the aircraft and landed at Solo’s Adisoemarmo International Airport. So far there are 8 flights a day from Jakarta. There are also some direct flights from Singapore and Kuala Lumpur. Historically, Solo and Yogyakarta are heirs of the Kingdom of Mataram (a great kingdom in Java) that was split in 1755. Solo was established in 1745 by the Sultanate of Mataram. At the end of the Sultanate Mataram, Solo had been the center of government. When Mataram broke, Solo became the center of government of Kasunanan Surakarta and Praja Mangkunegaraan.

In its development, Kasunanan Surakarta and Praja Mangkunegaraan are indeed lost prestige as compared with Sultanate of Yogyakarta under the leadership of Sultan Hamengkubuwono. However Solo role as one of the heirs of Javanese cultural values remains important. Various historic place and buildings, art products, and typical food s well as Keroncong Music can still be found in Solo. One of historical place is Kampung Batik Laweyan.

Kampung Batik Laweyan is the central region of batik in Solo City. This village has existed since the era of the Kingdom Pajang in the year 1546. When Solo became an important trading town, once established Sarekat Islamic Trade in 1905. Therefore it is not surprising that in this village we can feel the nuances of Islam Laweyan village as seen from the existence Laweyan Mosque that was built in 1546 by Kyai Ageng Belik.

In Kampung Batik Laweyan, we can see a huge area that is designed with an integrated concept where hundreds of batik craftsmen make and sell various batik motifs. We can also see houses with high walls and narrow alley. Given its history and importance of this region, the local government protects the buildings that have a wealth of ancient Javanese architecture and maintain the continuity of batik industry in the region. The government also made the Kampung Batik Laweyan as a tourist destination.

If you are a fan of music, do not forget to listen traditional music Keroncong and visit its musical performances at various theaters in Solo, such Balekambang Park. You can enjoy the sound of song and of course you can listen the song “Bengawan Solo”, a popular legendary keroncong song composed by Gesang.

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