Yogyakarta - usually shortened to Yogya and pronounced 'Jogja' - is probably the most popular tourist destination in Java. It is a convenient base from which to visit the greatest Buddhist monument in the world - Borobudur - and the equally impressive Hindu temples on the Prambanan Plain. The town itself also has a number of worthwhile attractions: the large walled area of the kraton, with the sultan's palace, the ruined water gardens or 'Taman Sari', and a colourful bird market. Yogya is arguably the cultural capital of Java, and certainly its many private colleges and university attest to its being the island's educational heart, which also accounts for the younger, relatively affluent individuals you will see in the city. For the tourist, it is also one of the best centres for shopping and offers a good range of tourist services, from excellent mid-range accommodation to well-run tour companies.

Yogya is situated at the foot of the volcano Gunung Merapi, which rises to a height of 2911 m, to the north of the city. This peak is viewed as life-giving, and is set in opposition to the sea, which is life-taking and situated to the south. The importance of orientation with relation to Gunung Merapi and the ocean is seen clearly in the structure of the kraton, or sultan's palace.

The May 2006 earthquake that virtually destroyed the town of Bantul (26 km to the south of Yogyakarta) and killed over 6000 people, badly affected many sights in the southern part of Yogyakarta. The quake killed 27 people in Yogyakarta and damaged the Taman Sari, the Kraton Kerata Museum and the Museum Perjuangan (which still remains closed). Yogyakarta recovered quickly and the tourist infrastructure, so important to the city's economy, is running as efficiently as ever.

This is edited copy from Footprint Handbooks. For comprehensive details (incl address, tel no, directions, opening times and prices) please refer to book or individual chapter PDF
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