indonesia travel magazine

Central Java, Solo Mangkunegara Palace Museum

Central Java, Solo Mangkunegara Palace Museum


Closer to the center of the modern city is the smaller palace of the Kraton Mangkunegara. Built in 1757 after a bitter struggle against the founder of Surakarta, Pakubuwono II, by his nephew Raden Mas Said. Although smaller, this kraton is more intact and is a bit more interesting that its bigger neighbor.
The royal family still lives in the back of the palace, but most of the rest is open to the public for guided tours.
Our guide from the palace on our visit was a rather matronly lady who told us to call her “Fifi.” Inside the palace is a huge pendopo pavilion, used mainly for dance performances. Behind the pavilion is the old audience hall, now a museum with a few intriguing items. Among these was a “chastity belt” for men. Yes boys, there really is such a thing, and since it was for a prince, its gold plated! The size was rather small, though. Of course, there was also a belt for the princess. Fifi obviously thought the old Javanese elite were much more fair-minded than their European counterparts of the time. She also introduced us to the prince’s herbalist, who of course had things to sell that were “only available in the palace.” Among the items on offer were face powders, weight-reduction pills and a powder for making a tea with the same effects as Viagra. “Drink this and after one hour you will be quite strong.” Fifi told us.
Beside the audience hall are reception rooms and a garden with caged song birds scattered around here and there.

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