This French train station is located in a town renamed after the famed writer Marcel Proust's fictional name for the village.
Royal Guards stand watch at the entrance to Surakarta Palace to prevent anyone but the King of Solo (another name for Surakarta), and his consorts from entering its doors. Kings have resided here since the palace’s completion in 1745. Though the royal family is no longer a ruling monarchy, they are revered and serve as a reminder of a golden era in Java’s past.
Rising above the palace is Sangga Buwana Tower. Once a year, the King of Solo (today Pakubuwono XIII) walks to the top to commune with the nature goddess Nyai Loro Kidul, or Queen of the Southern Sea. In the twenty-first century, the king merely meditates on the power of the goddess. But in ancient times, it was believed that the mythical queen would transform into the king’s bride for the annual visit, to experience a symbolic sexual union. This ritual perpetuated the king’s reign by blessing him and the kingdom with the queen’s fertility.
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