YOGYAKARTA (pronounced "Jogjakarta" and often just shortened to "Jogja") ranks as one of the best-preserved and most attractive cities in Java, and is a major centre for the classical Javanese arts of batik, ballet, drama, music, poetry and puppet shows. At its heart is Yogya's first family, the Hamengkubuwonos, whose elegant palace lies at the centre of Yogya's quaint old city, the Kraton, itself concealed behind high castellated walls. Tourists flock here, attracted not only by the city's courtly splendour but also by the nearby temples of Prambanan and Borobudur, so there are more hotels in Yogya than anywhere else in Java and, unfortunately, a correspondingly high number of touts, pickpockets and con artists.
Sultan Hamengkubuwono I (also known as Mangkubumi) established his court here in 1755, spending the next 37 years building the new capital, with the Kraton as the centrepiece and the court at Solo as the blueprint. In 1946, the capital of the newly declared Republic of Indonesia was moved to Yogya from Jakarta, and the Kraton became the unofficial headquarters for the republican movement. The royal household of Yogya continues to enjoy almost slavish devotion from its subjects and the current sultan, Hamengkubuwono X, remains an influential politician.