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Sixty-five kilometres northeast of Yogya stands quiet, leafy low-rise SURAKARTA, or, as it's more commonly known, SOLO. This is the older of the two royal cities in Central Java, and its ruling family can lay claim to being the rightful heirs to the Mataram dynasty.
Not long after their establishment – in 1745 and 1757 respectively – Solo's two royal houses wisely stopped fighting and instead threw their energies into the arts, developing a highly sophisticated and graceful court culture. The gamelan pavilions became the new theatres of war, with each city competing to produce the more refined court culture – a situation that continues to this day.