CENTRAL JAVA, HEARTLAND OF CULTURE & HISTORY
Central Java Province is Java’s cultural, geographic, and historic heartland. The region is best known for its two UNESCO World Heritage sites the ancient Buddhist stupa and temple complex of Borobudur and the Hindu temple complex of Prambanan, both dating back to the 9th century.
Universities, dance schools, pottery, handicrafts, hand-woven textiles and intricate carvings give to the region a rich culture. Performing arts is still widely practiced and traditional dance dramas (wayang orang) and shadow puppets (wayang kulit) performances are regularly staged. Surakarta, better known as Solo, is the cradle of Javanese culture in the province where Javanese culture and traditions abound.
Mountains cross the entire central portion of the province. At the feet of these mountains are pleasant and cool highland plains with beautiful panoramas such as Baturaden, the Dieng Plateau, Bandungan, Kopeng and Tawangmangu. Java’s longest river, Solo, at 600 kilometers long, flows through the region.
The provinces administrative capita is Semarang.
Geography: Central Java is located exactly in the middle of Java Island. It borders with West Java Province in the west, while in the eastern part borders with East Java Province. On the southern side lies the province of Yogyakarta Special Region. It also includes offshore islands such as Karimun Jawa Islands in the north and Nusa Kambangan in the southwest.
Climate: The average temperature is 21°C to 32°C. There are two seasons: rainy-season from October to April) and dry season from May to September.
PLACES TO GO, THINGS TO DO
An off-the-beaten-track destination for tourists looking for something different. This volcanic plain in the highlands north of Wonosobo is home to the oldest standing structures in Indonesia – Hindu temples dating from the 8th century. The scenery is spectacular with conical volcanoes, steaming sulfurous pools and eerie mountain lakes.
The adventurous may want to climb Mount Merapi, an active volcano. Experienced trekkers may reach summit in about three hours from the last village on the northern slopes. Sunrise is truly spectacular here as are the molten lava flows.
Ambarawa Railway Museum
Ambarawa, 50 kilometers south of Semarang, is the home of Java’s antique locomotives. The museum houses locomotives of various types and ages. There is also a collection of antique telephones and other instruments used for railway communication. Rides on a cog railway from Ambarawa and Bedono, a village nearby, are available. Prior arrangements have to be made for groups.
This is a 17th century palace and the royal residence of King Pakubuwono. Attached to the palace is an art gallery exhibiting royal heirlooms, antiques and many invaluable items. The palace exudes a genuine royal Javanese atmosphere.
Pura Mangkunegaran (Mangkunegaran Palace)
Pura Mangkunegaran was built 1757. It has a typical Javanese architecture consisting of Pendopo (an open front hall to receive guests), Pringgitan (a porch to hold leather puppet shadow play) and private apartments. Two sets of 17th century Javanese gamelan instruments are on show exhibited and there are performances every Wednesdays in the pendopo. The palace also exhibits masks, leather and wooden puppets, religious articles and jewelries.
This is a holiday resort on the slope of Mount Ungaran, about 900m above sea level. The main attraction is Gedong Songo, a group of small 8th century Hindu Javanese temples, which can be reached either by car or on horseback from the town. Built at about the same time as the temples of the Dieng complex, Gedong Songo is one of the most beautiful temple complexes in Central Java. The panoramic views from the temples alone are worth the trip.
Guci Hot Water Spring
Guci is a mountain resort about 1,050m above sea level with temperatures ranging from 12.8°C to 21.9°C. The main attraction is the hot water spring, named after the resort. There are indoor and outdoor bathing pools as well as a swimming pool for visitors. The water contains chemical compound such as zinc, sulfur and iodine, believed to cure various kinds of skin diseases. There are various tourist facilities that include hotels, restaurants, children playground and camping sites.
Taman Kyai Langgeng (Kyai Langgeng Park)
This tranquil park, occupying 19 hectares of land, was built by the local government of Magelang Municipality and opened to the public in 1987. It is named after one of the followers of Prince Diponegoro, Kyai Langgeng, an Indonesian hero who fought bravely against the Dutch colonialist during the Diponegoro war (1825-1830). He is buried in the park. It contains many kinds of rare plants from all over Indonesia, a collection of dinosaurs statues, a fishing pond, aquariums, a green house, swimming pool, open air theatre, large cages of tropical birds, an arena for go-kart, a river for canoeing and white water surfing, restaurants, souvenir shops, a tropical fruit market, indoor tennis court and hotels.