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Javanese Kingdoms 1550-1594 more detail see in Karaton Surakarta Book


In February 1745 an extraordinary event in the history of Mataram took place. In a long and impressive procession the seat of power of the realm, the whole court, with everything and everyone in it was moved from its ruined site at Kartasura to a new location at the peaceful village of Solo, several kilometers to the northeast. Originally a small village on the banks of the Bengawan River, its name was subsequently changed to the more appropriate Surokarto Hadiningrat. Beautifully described in a Javanese text, Babad Surokarto, this event is commemorated every year with a ceremony in one of the karaton's reception halls. Sinuhun Paku Buwono XII, the head of Karaton Surakarta, is sometimes also present. Recently this occasion has become recognized as the city's official founding date. It is celebrated with numerous festivities, the most auspicious one being a re-enactment of the historic procession from Kayfosura to Surakarta.


The reason for moving the court lies in the historic developments of the preceding period. Javanese aristocrats opposed to the expansionist policies of the Dutch, who were motivated by the need to secure their economic interests in the Archipelago on the one hand, and bands of armed, marauding Chinese, supported by Javanese troops on the other, combined and attacked the court at Kartasura. Although Mataram's ruler Paku Buwono 11 eventually regained control over his court with the assistance of the nobles of the eastern region of the kingdom and Dutch troops, the karaton was in ruins and a new court had to be built. Most of the buildings then designed are still in use today. They serve as the residence of the ruler, his family, and many abdi dalem (courtiers) serving at the court.

Karaton Surakarta Hadiningrat no longer functions as the administrative centre of a kingdom. After surviving for four centuries, Mataram ceased to exist when the nation became independent as a result of the struggle of the Indonesian people for freedom (1945-1949). The court of Surakarta shared the fate of other royal seats of power in many regions of Indonesia which surrendered their traditional political roles, and became part of the Republic of Indonesia. However, members of the dynasty that has ruled Karaton Surakarta Hadiningrat for so many generations have remained actively involved in many fields in contemporary Indonesia. The court itself is an important center of Javanese culture.