By S. Kramer
KOTA GEDE is small regency on the outskirt of Yogyakarta Central Java Indonesia. The name means the big city. The area was chosen by Sunan Kalijaga (an Islamic leader) as the site for Mataram, the first Javanese Islamic kingdom in the 16th century. It was a transition time from previously Hindu Buddhist kingdoms of Demak and Pajang to the Islamic era in Java. Historical remnant of Mataram can be seen in the old Javanese style houses and part of the city thick walls and motts around the city. The flourishing trades from the old settlement in the past that are still carried on by the present generations like silver craft, leather carving and weaving can still be found in many parts of Kotagedhe.
One interesting object to visit in Kotagedhe is the Royal Cemetery. The Hindu influence can still be seen on the architectural design of the Royal cemetery. It is the burial site for the royal family members of Mataram, including the first king Panembahan Senapati, who died in 1601 AD. The most unique part of this cemetery is the graveyard of Senapati’s son in-law, Ki Ageng Mangir. He was an opposition leader fighting against the king’s power but conquered and killed at the site when he came to pay respect to the king after being persuaded to marry the king’s daughter. His graveyard was half inside and half outside the wall. Senapati’s descendant, Sultan Agung, ascended to the throne and brought Java to its golden Era. To visit the Royal cemetery, visitors have to dress in Javanese traditional clothes and are not allowed to wear gold jewelries.