A thousand years ago, Yogyakarta was the center of ancient Mataram Kingdom which was prosperous and high civilized. This kingdom built Borobudur Temple which was the biggest Buddhist temple in the world, 300 years before Angkor Wat in Cambodia. Some other relics are Prambanan Temple, Ratu Boko Palace, and dozens of other temples scattered throughout Yogyakarta. (See Archaeological Sights)
However, by some mysterious reason, Ancient Mataram Kingdom moved its central government to East Java in the 10th century. The magnificent temples were abandoned and partially buried by the eruption material of Merapi Volcano. Slowly, Yogyakarta region went back into the dense forest.
six hundred years later, Panembahan Senopati established the Islamic Mataram Kingdom in the region. Once again, Yogyakarta became the witness of human history of a great Kingdom that ruled Java Island and its surrounding area. Islamic Mataram Kingdom was leaving a trail of ruins of fortress and royal tombs in Kotagede which recently is known as silver handicraft center in Yogyakarta. (See Historic & Heritage Sights)
Giyanti agreement in 1755 divided the Islamic Mataram Kingdom into Kasunanan Surakarta be based in the city of Solo and Yogyakarta Sultanate which founded in Yogyakarta. Kraton (palace) still exists until today and is functioned as the residence of sultan and his family as well as hundreds of abdi dalem (the servant of the palace) who faithfully serve the palace voluntarily and run the tradition in the midst of changing times. At the palace, there are many cultural performances such as wayang kulit (puppet shadow play), gamelan (Javanese orchestra), and Javanese dance etc. (See Calendar of Events)
Yogyakarta at present is a place where tradition and modern dynamics are going on together continuously. In this city, there is a palace which has hundreds of loyal servants to run the tradition, but there is also University of Gadjah Mada that is one of the leading universities in South East Asia. Some of its residents live in a strong agrarian culture. In the other side, there are also students who live with pop life-style. Traditional markets and handicraft centers are numerous in the city where some of them located by the malls which are no less hectic.
At the north end of Yogyakarta, you will see Mount Merapi stands proudly almost as high as 10,000 feet. This mountain is one of the most active volcanoes in Indonesia. The trace of its malignant of the 2006 eruption can be witnessed in the Village of Kaliadem, 30 km from the city of Yogyakarta. Mooi Indie style scenery of green rice field with Mount Merapi in the background can still be seen in the suburb area of Yogyakarta. (See Nature & Outdoors)
In the southern part of Yogyakarta, you will find many beaches. The most famous beach is Parangtritis with its legendary figure of Nyi Roro Kidul (Queen of the South), but Yogyakarta has also many natural beautiful beaches in Gunung Kidul. You can see the Sadeng Beach which is an ancient estuary of Bengawan Solo River before the powerful forces lifted the surface of the southern part of Java Island so that the flow of the river turned to the north like today. You can also visit Siung Beach which has 250 channels of rock climbing, Sundak Beach and many more. (See Beaches)
If Malaysia has the world’s highest twin towers, Yogyakarta has Prambanan Temple with 47 meters tall and was made by hand about 1100 the previous years. If Singapore has modern life, Yogyakarta has traditional agrarian society. If Thailand and Bali have beautiful beaches, Yogyakarta owns natural beaches and Mount Merapi, which has a story of how powerful the force of nature is.