Address : Jalan Jenderal Ahmad, Yani Yogyakarta
When Tracing back the history of Indonesian independence in Yogyakarta you cannot leave off the President’s Residence The Residence lies upon a 43.858 square meter land and is also known as Gedung Agung. The naming was thought to be related to one of the functions of the main palace as a room for receiving noble guests.
Gedung Agung is one of the six President’s Residences in Indonesia who played an important role in the struggle for Indonesian independence and life. The other are Istana Negara and Istana Merdeka (Jakarta), Istana Bogor (Bogor), Istana Cipanas (Cipanas), and Istana Tampak Siring (Bali). The construction of Gedung Agung was initiated by Anthonie Hendriks Smissaert, the 18 head of Dutch Residency in Yogyakarta (1823-1925) who wanted to own an official office as well as residence for the Dutch Recidents in Yogyakarta. In May 1824 the Indies Governor General then appointed architect A. Payen to start the construction. The construction process was delayed due to Diponegoro War outbreak (1825-1830) which was also known as the Java War (Java Oorlog). After the war ended, the construction continued and finished in 1832. When an earthquake hit Yogyakarta on June 10 1867, the building collapsed. It was reconstructed and finished in 1869.
Along with the promotion of Yogyakarta administrative status from residency into province in December 19 1927, the main building of Gedung Agung complex was used as the resident of the Dutch Governor in Yogyakarta. Some of these Governors were J.E Jesper (1926-1927), P.R.W van Gesseler Verschuur (1929-1932), H.M. Detik.com, Kock (1932-1935), J. Bijlevel (1935-1940) and L. Adam (1940-1942). During the Japanese occupation, the Residence became the official residence for Koochi Zimmukyoku Tyookan, the Japanese ruler in Yogyakarta (1934-1945).
After Indonesia gained its independence, on January 6, 1946, Gedung Agung became the President’s Residence of Indonesia, coincided with the appointing of Yogyakarta the temporary capital of the Unitary State of the Republic of Indonesia. Since then, Gedung Agung became the residence of President Soekarno and his family. Vice president Mohammad Hatta, meanwhile, stayed in a building on the north side of Gedung Agung (now Military Command 072/Pamungkas). In this President’s Residence Sudirman was inaugurated Commander in Chief of Indonesian National Army on June 3, 1947 and leader of the Indonesian army on July 3, 1947.
During the Dutch Military Agression II on December 19, 1948, Yogyakarta was taken over by the Dutch army led by General Spoor. The president, vice president and the state officials were exiled out of Java, then returned to Gedung Agung in July 6, 1949. As the President moved back to Jakarta on December 28, 1949, Gedung Agung was no longer president’s residence.
When Soeharto, the second president of Indonesia, ruled since April 17, 1988, Gedung Agung was used to hold The Senja Parade (a flag-lowering ceremony) on 17 every month, acquaintanceship and parting of the Air Force cadets. Even, since August 17, 1991, the President’s Residence of Yogyakarta was officially used to commemorate the Proclamation of Indonesian Independence in DIY. Nowadays, Gedung Agung serves as place for the president and vice president to stay over in Yogyakarta.
The building complex in Gedung Agung consists of the Main Building (Gedung Utama), Negara House, Indraphrasta House, Sawojajar House, Bumiretawu House and Saptapratala House. In Gedung Utama there is the main room called Garuda Room which functions as the official room to receive state visitors or special guests.
In addition to the five houses, there is Seni Sono complex which became a part of the President’s Residence since September 20, 1995. The complex is 5.600 square meter wide and located at the south of Gedung Agung. Previously it belonged to the Department of Information. The building functions to keep the collection of art objects as well as holding exhibition and art performance. It is an old building built by the Dutch in 1911 and was last used as an office of Antara state news agency.
In the front porch of Gedung Agung there are two gigantic statues of Dwarapala (the usher) as tall as 2 meters. There is also the 3 meter Dagoba monument which Yogyakarta people call the Tugu Lilin (Candle Monument), made of andecite and always light up artificial fire. The monument symbolizes the religious harmony between Shiva Hinduism and Buddhism. Presumably, the statues come from Cupuwatu Village, as region around Prambanan Temple.
On the front right of Main Building there is Ruang Soedirman to memorize his leadership in guerrilla against the Dutch. In this room, then, Soedirman asked for Soekarno permission to leave the town in order to lead the guerrilla. On the front left of Gedung Utama there is Ruang Diponegoro to memorize Diponegoro stuggle against the Dutch. There is a painting of Diponegoro riding on a horse.
On the south part Gedung Agung there is a bedroom for president and his family, on the north part there is a bed room provided for the vice president and his family, state visitors or other prominent guests. On Gedung Agung backyard there is a big, tall and leafy trees that makes the place shady.
In general, since erected two centuries ago, the Presedent’s Residence complex has not undergone significant changes. It still has the same shape as it was first constructed in 1869. It was in this room that the Indonesian Cabinet was inaugurated when the capital was moved to Yogyakarta. On the wall of this historical building there are images of national heroes such as Diponegoro, R.A. Kartini, Wahidin Soedirohusodo and Tengku Cik Di Tiro.
Gedung Agung is situated in the center of Yogyakarta, at Ahmad Yani Street, Ngapusan Subdistrict, Gondomanan District, DIY, Indonesia. It is on the south of Vredeburg Fort, Serangan Umum 1 Maret Monument and Taman Pintar. On the south of this building there is the building of Bank of Indonesia, the Central Post Office of Yogyakarta (Kantor Pos Besar) and Yogyakarta Palace.
The access to Gedung Agung is easy because it is located exactly at the end of Malioboro Street. Moreover, the building is relatively close to Adi Sucipto Airport (about 8 km), Giwangan Bus Station (about 6 km), Lempuyangan Train Station (abour 3 km) and Tugu Train Station (about 1 km).
Domestic and foreign tourists who depart from Adi Sucipto Airport can take Transjogja Route 3A or 3B across Malioboro Street. The fare is Rp 3.000. After about 25 minutes stop at the bus shelter in front of Gedung Agung. Those who depart from Giwangan Bus Station can take the city bus lane 4 or 10 across Malioboro Street and stop in front of Gedung Agung. The fare is Rp 2.500. From Lempuyangan Train Station, take a taxi to Gedung Agung for approximately Rp 20.000. While if you depart from Tugu Train Station, take a pedicab or andong to Gedung Agung for roughly Rp. 5.000,00.
Visiting Gedung Agung is free off charge. It opens daily from 9 am to 3 pm and it closes on Sundays and national holidays.
Some supporting facilities in Gedung Agung are the library, small mosque, toilet, meeting hall, performance room and a wide and shady parking area.
Text: Tasyriq Hifzhilla
Photo(s): Collection of Jogjatrip.com
Translation: Apri Widiastuti
(Primery data and various sources)