Surakarta or more famous as Solo is lying across in fertile plain terrain along the longest river in Java, Bengawan or River Solo. Flanked by mountain volcanoes Merapi and Merbabu in the north, and mount Lawu in the southeast border, is famous as a stronghold and center of Javanese culture and tradition. Surakarta, is the cradle of Javanese culture, with two royal houses in one single city: the Kraton of Solo and the Mangkunegaran, a principality. Descendants of these two royal houses are still considered leaders of Javanese culture and traditions. Majestic ceremonies and royal festivals are still held with great affectation nowadays. Surakarta or Solo (550000 inhabitants) draws its name from the longest river of Java, which passes in this city. It was the capital of the kingdom of Mataram from 1745 to 1755. There are many Becak (rickshaws decorated with naive scenes) croos the city.
Solo offers an incredible list of eateries also popular far beyond the city. Solo today remains a distinctly Central Javanese with an elegance all its own. It is one of the centers of batik and other Javanese fabrics, and souvenir hunters may find exquisite ‘objects d’art” and ornate trinkets in the local markets. Those interested in old, Javanese culture and art should not miss Solo. Solo is called the city that never sleeps. From the evening throughout the whole night one can always find something to eat or buy, as vendors of all kinds as well as small food-stalls remain active and open 24 hours. Home of two royal houses with centuries of power and influence over the city. There are nice inns and hotels in Selo for accommodation. This place was a famous holiday resort of Surakarta Royal Families.
Solo is Surakarta’s commercial as well as its administrative center, and produce from the surrounding desa fills the markets every day. Solo produces cigarettes, herbal medicines and various other light industry products, but batik is far and away the most important manufacturing activity in the city. Batik is a traditional textile working process involving the use of wax to cover the cloth in patterns and thus control the areas affected by dying. In the traditional process, batik tulis (“written batik”) hot wax is applied with incredible patience and skill with an instrument that looks like a pipe but is used like a pen. The women and girls sit circled around an often-smoky little burner that heats the wax.
Many of the larger houses participate in the batik industry, with an area set aside for a covey of from 10 to 30 women and girls, who usually come from the village (desa). Really skilled workers are generally old, and the present level of batik production is not likely to continue in economically developing Java as alternative, less demanding activities absorb more of this cheap labor.