Surakarta City - what to do in Solo
Surakarta city is probably not as exciting as Yogyakarta but it has enough to keep you busy for a couple of days. Surakarta, more commonly known as Solo has a long and turbulent history. Although Solo exists much longer, it was only until the mid 18th century before Solo started growing and became an important city, it became the capital of the Mataram Kingdom.
Solo also played a role in the independence struggle. The statue of Slamet Riyadi in Surakarta is a living memory of those days. Today, the city stands a little in the shadow of Yogyakarta but it has much to offer.
What to do in Surakarta City
The Kraton in central Solo is a city in itself. The palace is surrounded by a wall with inside a complete kampong like area with a kampong feeling. although the big city is never more then 5 minutes away, it's remarkable quiet here. You can cycle through the Kraton kampong but walking is much nicer.
The doorway leads into the palace but only parts can be visited. The main sight to be visited is the Sasono Sewoko Museum where you can see silver and bronze work, Hindu-Javanese figures, weapons, antiques, carriages and other royal heirlooms.
Although this is seldom mentioned, I have fond memories of some performing arts in Surakarta City. True, I was just walking to a shopping mall when I went into the Sriwedari Amusement Parka. There's a pavilion where children of different ages were practicing Javanese dancing with their teachers.
It was great to see these kids preserving their centuries old culture. And parent sitting around, watching and chatting.
The Central Market Area
The central market area is a busy place where you can get almost anything you can imagine. As in many cities, becaks and motorcycles rule the street scene. People come to shop and get a becak back home, some are heavy loaded with goods, others with people. It's a great part of the city to see how people live.
Surakarta city has several museums worth to visit. The Padya Pustaka Museum, Danar Hadi and the Puri Mankunegaran contain some of Solo's turbulent and beautiful history. There are a few colonial buildings still in the city. For example, next to the Puri Mankunegaran you can find a kavallerie artillerie building, a reminder of the Dutch colonial days.
Cycling in Surakarta City
Cycling in Surakarta is absolute possible, it's not a very busy city in general but many of the main attractions are within walking distance and becaks are always and everywhere available. Although I like cycling, in cities I prefer to walk or use local transport, saves me searching for whatever I am looking for.
Getting in and out of the city is quite easy. The road signs are straightforward but keep in mind many roads in Solo are one way only.
For bicycle maintenance and repairs, you will want to visit Rukum Makmur, an excellent bicycle shop on Jalan Slamet Riyadi. Their service is impeccable and they have the materials and knowledge you want as a cyclist. That is not surprising as Solo has a large group of cyclists who every week do tours in the area. You can ask details in the shop too.
Accommodation in Solo
Accommodation is easy to find in Surakarta. There are several cheap guesthouses around Jl A Dhalan. There's little need in booking in advance.
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