Once the capital of central Java, Solo lost out to Yogyakarta and became a relaxed city with a lively cultural tradition. Solo was primed to develop as a major tourist site with the opening of an international airport; however, the city was severely damaged by riots in 1998, with Chinese-owned shops a particular target. It has subsequently developed a reputation as a "hotbed of terrorism" not because of attacks in the area, but rather because many militants call it home.
Because it's only a few hours away from Yogyakarta by bus or car, you can visit Solo on a day trip to see the city's two walled palaces: the Surakarta Kraton (rebuilt after a 1985 fire) and the Mangkunegara Kraton, which has a beautiful pavilion with a vibrantly colored Javanese zodiac on the ceiling.
Nearby is the Indonesian Academy of Performing Arts (ASKI), where dance and gamelan rehearsals are open to the public every afternoon except Sunday.
At night, wayang orang (Javanese theater) depicting stories from the Ramayana can be seen at the Sriwedari Amusement Park.
Solo is also known for its unique style of batik. The central cloth market has quality wares at good prices.
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