Solo is a town in Central Java that is very unique and nice to visit. The town is not so crowded but it has several amazing things to offer, especially if you are looking for a cultural tourism. Here are some of them:
1. Keraton Solo
Similar to Yogyakarta, Solo was also a part of Mataram Kingdom, an ancient kingdom in Java. Even until today, the Kraton Solo (the Kingdom of Solo) still exists. The buildings are still there and open for public tourism. The ritual ceremonies are also still practiced regularly.
The buildings in Keraton Solo Complex have unique architecture that you would never see in any other building. This style was influenced by many cultures such as ancient Hindunese as their ancestor’s main religions, modern Islamic architecture as their current main religion, Chinese architecture as there are many Chinese travelled to Solo during Kesultanan Solo era, and lastly Portuguese and Dutch architecture which influenced them during the imperial era.
Some of the popular rituals are Sekaten Solo (a series of events to commemorate Maulid, the birthday of Prophet Muhammad), Grebeg Sudiro (a festival to celebrate the Chinese New Year), Kirab Pusaka (a ritual where the soldiers walks around the town carrying out various heritages for all the people to see), and much more. Check out the Solo Tourism website for upcoming events schedule.
2. The Unique Batik Solo
Batik Solo has a different style than any other batik pattern from other towns in Indonesia. The patterns are usually geometric and have not developed much since the ancient times. This is because every pattern has its own meaning and reasons. The choice of color only ranges between white, cream, brown, and black. To learn much about the patterns and their own meaning, you can visit the Danar Hadi Ancient Batik Museum at Slamet Riyadi Street. This museum can tell you a story about history of Batik development in Indonesia.
In order to preserve the Batik heritage and to keep the people’s enthusiast towards Batik, the government of Solo also holds two annual modern Batik events; Batik Solo Carnival and Batik Solo Fashion. Batik Solo Carnival is similar to other carnival; they wear sophisticated outfits and parade around the town. But each outfit must contain Batik on it. Meanwhile, Batik Solo Fashion shows up designer’s new line of Batik clothes. The events annually take place at open public spaces.
3. Ngarsopuro Walk
Sometimes, after an active travel around the town, all you want to do is just a nice walk with fresh breeze to calm you down. In Solo, you can do that on Ngarsopuro. Ngarsopuro is a pedestrian area located in Diponegoro Street. The area is very artistic and unique with huge paintings on the wall, ethnical street lamps, Javanese statues, and more outdoor ornaments.
Ngarsopuro Walk would be different if you come by at Saturday or Sunday around 18.30 – 21.30 as there will be a Night Market there. Ngarsopuro Night Market is held to support local merchants. At this market, you can buy many local products, batiks, souvenirs, and (of course) foods and drinks. Everything is sold in affordable prices. There is also a live performance to entertain everyone coming to the market. The live performance is different from time to time. Sometimes it is a jazz band, traditional dance, or ethnical performance from local Solo artists.
4. Slamet Riyadi Street
Just like any other cultural town, Solo surely has several museums worth visited. There is Danar Hadi Batik Museum as mentioned before in Slamet Riyadi Street. At the very same street, there is also Radya Pustaka Museum. This old museum was built in 1890 by the Kesultanan Solo as a place for them to keep their sacred goods and books.
Besides those two museums, there is also a place called Sriwedari Park on that street. The park was a heritage from Kesultanan Solo where all the cultures were preserved. The park consists of several buildings. One of them is Gedung Wayang Orang. Wayang Orang is a kind of Javanese theatrical performance with some singing and dancing sometimes. The showcase starts at 08.00 PM every Tuesday to Saturday. The ticket is sold only $0.3.
At the end of the street, there is Gladag Langen Bogan. It is a center of culinary in Solo where you can find many food stalls lining up offering various yummy foods with reasonable price. At daytime, the street is quite crowded and there is no much of food vendors. But after the sun sets, the street is closed for vehicle as the stalls start to open. So if you wish to enjoy Solo culinary, make sure to visit this place at night-time.
5. Bengawan Solo River
Bengawan Solo is the longest river in Java with almost 600 km of length. Some of you may have heard about it from a famous old song, Bengawan Solo by Gesang. The river is very active in the morning. Traditional boats are passing by carrying villagers and their farm products and livestock to sell.
There are also small boats which are rowed by tourists who want to enjoy the scenery. At both side of the river, you can see trees and natural forests as shown in the picture below. Sometimes, you can also see many villagers doing their daily activities such as farming, feeding their cows, and more.
Although it is not a big city or a province capital, Solo is very easy to access. They have an airport with both domestic and international flight. International flights that are always available are Kuala Lumpur (Malaysia), Bandar Sri Begawan (Brunei), Singapore, and Saudi (UEA).
Solo can also be accessed by train from Yogyakarta, Semarang, Jakarta, and other town in Java. Tourists who visit Yogyakarta usually love to hop down to Solo as well because it only takes an hour to drive.