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Kasepuhan Palace: The Legacy of Cirebon’s Oldest Sultanate

by Yovita Siswati on 11/11/09 at 10:30 am

Being the largest, oldest, most famous and most beautiful palace in Cirebon, one of main cities in Java’s Northern coast, Kasepuhan Palace is surely worth a visit. The palace is the legacy of the first Cirebon’s Islamic Sultanate.

How to get there.

It takes approximately four hour train ride from Jakarta, the Capital of Indonesia, to Cirebon. Once you are in the city, you can use hired vehicle or public transportation including local pedicabs to get to the Palace. Located in the centre of the city, the palace is easily accessible.

Image via Wikipedia

History

Kasepuhan is also known as Pakungwati Palace after the name of the daughter of Prince Cakrabuwana, the sultanate’s first ruler who built the palace in 1446. Pakungwati married Sunan Gunung Jati, one of nine highly respected Muslim saints in Java. He renovated the palace in 1483 and used it as Islamic education centre. In 1529 new building was added by Prince Mas Mohammed Arifin the great grandson of Sunan Gunung Jati.

Complete history of the city of Cirebon can be read in my previous article: Cirebon, Historical City in West Java.

Layout

Like any other ancient kingdoms in Java, the layout of the royal complex must follow a sacred traditional pattern. The Palace has to face north. In front of the Palace there has to be one large central square to house lively traditional ceremony or other public gatherings.To the west of the square, there should be a mosque or other religious buildings. To the north, there should be a jail and to the east, a marketplace. In Kasepuhan, the Palace and the Mosque still stand proudly until today, however the square looks very much abandoned and both jail and market had long been vanished.

The Palace’s main entrance. Image from author.

Architecture

Historically, Cirebon was one of the busiest ports in Java. It was a place where many cultures intermingled.  As a meeting place of many cultures, Kasepuhan Palace has a unique mix of Pre Hindu, Hindu, Islamic, Chinese, European and Javanese architectural styles

Pre-Hindu, Hindu and Javanese influences

Entering the Palace, the first thing you see is a Hindu-styled split gate named Gapura Adi. It is similar to the gate of Balinese Hindu temples. This red brick gate leads you to Siti Hinggil area, a square surrounded by mortarless thick red brick bearing wall. Siti means land in local language and hingil means high. This area was built on a level higher than any other areas of the palace to symbolize the divinity of the member of the royal family. There are five wooden pagoda-like pavilions in the area used for royal ceremony. The structures are covered by wooden roof and have no wall. They roofs follow the style of traditional local houses.

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18 Comments

Lady Sunshine

Nov 11th, 2009

Thank you for this amazing tour of Kasepuhan Palace, Yovita. As usual your photos are beautiful. I wish I could see it in person.

PR Mace

Nov 11th, 2009

Loved it this was an amazing article.

Eunice Tan

Nov 11th, 2009

Great article on Cirebon’s Sultanate

Joe Dorish

Nov 12th, 2009

Would love to visit the Kasepuhan Palace someday!

drelayaraja

Nov 13th, 2009

I like this place. very interesting and informative article. Well done.

Debra.

Nov 13th, 2009

Beautiful place. Great article.

Holly J. Harrington

Nov 13th, 2009

I love your sight and articles. Thanks you always for stopping by my place.

Juancav

Nov 13th, 2009

A sultanate in Indonesia,amazing,beautiful architecture.

Lorenzo A. Fernandez Jr.

Nov 13th, 2009

Wow, amazing, beautiful Indonesia!

John

Nov 14th, 2009

Thanks for your article..May be you have a story of Cirebon , such as about Sang Cipta Rasa Mosque, Sunyaragi cave etc. I need for English competition.

cutedrishti8

Nov 14th, 2009

Great pictures….

Shirley Shuler

Nov 14th, 2009

Thank you for the tour of Kasepuhan Palace, Yovita. The pictures are beautiful, it would be great to see it in person.

Sierli

Nov 15th, 2009

Yovita, great article, i like it.

Ruby Hawk

Nov 16th, 2009

An interesting article and beautiful pictures, wish I could go.

CA Johnson

Nov 16th, 2009

Great job on your article, yovita. I have never been to Kasepuhan Palace, but it seems very nice.

nana

Nov 20th, 2009

Yovita….great article & beautiful picture….I like it

papaleng

Nov 24th, 2009

Yovita, thanks for the History lesson, surely your country is blessed with many beautiful places and structures.

CutestPrincess

Dec 1st, 2009

nice place, thanks for the quick tour!

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