UNESCO Recognized Yogyakarta

Officially recognized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) on the matter, the city of Yogyakarta – the only one from Indonesia - recently received an invite to have its mayor speak at the Asia-Pacific Forum for Mayors in South Korea. Mayor Haryadi Suyuti attended and spoke at the forum on Aug. 29-30, one that had been specially convened for all those cities in the Asia Pacific region with cultural heritage sites, according to Wahyu Hendratmoko, who heads the protocol division at the Yogyakarta City Secretariat. The forum was held in the city of Gyeongju, located about a three and a half hour journey from Seoul. There were 45 mayors scheduled to attend this forum. "Yogyakarta was the only invitee from Indonesia," he said.

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Cultural Heritage Values

UNESCO Recognized YogyakartaAccording to Wahyu, UNESCO recognized that Yogyakarta was a city that made substantial efforts to protect its cultural heritage sites and other cultural gems, compared to so many other cities in the world where buildings of historical importance have been damaged due to business interests or simply neglected. UNESCO believed that the overall number of protected cultural sites in Yogyakarta had not declined much. These were the primary reasons why Yogyakarta was the only city in Indonesia to be invited.

In addition to Haryadi, he said, Laretna T. Adishakti, Chairperson of the Yogyakarta Heritage Society, was also invited to moderate at the forum. The Yogyakarta Office of Tourism and Culture lists 455 objects of cultural preservation in Yogyakarta. Of these, 89 were declared as protected cultural items by the central government and the province of Yogyakarta. The others are objects of cultural heritage, as determined by the mayor in 2009.

"Most are buildings. The owners were given incentives on payment of land and building tax," said Widiyastuti, an official from Yogyakarta's Cultural Preservation offices. Jhohannes Marbun, Coordinator of the Society for Yogyakarta Cultural Heritage Advocacy, lauded the selection of Yogyakarta as the Indonesian city invited to the forum. He said that the awareness of the public and the government toward these cultural heritage sites increased each year.

"However, there are still cases of (violations) of culturally protected sites," he said. Among these, he said, the Pizza Hut building in Yogyakarta is an ideal example. "The western part has been preserved, but this was done by sacrificing the eastern part of the building," he said. There is also the Mardi Utomo building, which has been turned into Yap Square. He concluded that business interests remained the primary threat to cultural sites.

He is presently concerned about two other cases. The Yogyakarta State High School No. 17 is in danger due to a dispute with estate heirs, and the status of the Kedawung Building in front of the Tugu Station remains unclear.

Meanwhile, in Solo, the Bank of Indonesia (BI) has completed restoration work on an old traditional home located within a building complex, on Jalan Ronggowarsito. Putra Nusantara, the acting BI Head Representative in Solo, said that this old house came from the Kasunanan Keraton (Javanese Palace) of Surakarta. Conservation of this house constructed in 1824 began on 28 May 2012, at a cost of Rp280 million. "We have attempted to restore it to its original state," said Putra, about this old-fashioned traditional home called Griya Kridha Lumaksa.

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