On the border between West and Central Java, Cirebon is a lively coastal city with a fascinating past. During the 16th and 17th centuries, it thrived as the seat of an Islamic Sultanate and became an important trade hub. As a result, its culture has been influenced by Sundanese and Javanese traditions as well as Chinese and Arab.
Things to do in Cirebon
One of Cirebon’s most impressive architectural landmarks is the At-Taqwa Grand Mosque, which was completed in 1918 in a Javanese Islamic architectural style. Marvel at its golden gate and the calligraphy that adorns the facade, then gaze up at the 65-metre-high minaret that rises above. Alongside two fountains, the surrounding gardens are dotted with towering date palms.
Also not to miss is the Kraton Kasepuhan, a sultan’s palace that dates back to 1447. Its architecture blends influences from Javanese, Sundanese, Chinese and Dutch styles, with the building providing a residence for the sultan to this day. Visit the small museum to see traditional wayang puppets and Javanese daggers on display alongside royal garments and armour.
Cirebon is a convenient base for exploring Mount Ciremai National Park, which is named after its active volcano and West Java’s highest peak. Follow the hiking trail that leads to its summit for spectacular views across the region or visit the 20-metre cascade of Curug Putri. Mount Ciremai National Park is home to several rare and endangered wildlife species, including leopards, barking deer and Javan hawk-eagles.
Getting around Cirebon
Kertajati International Airport is around an hour’s drive from Cirebon and has regular flights to Surabaya, Denpasar and Kuala Lumpur. The much larger Soekarno-Hatta International Airport is 3.5 hours away. Regular trains connect from Jakarta to the Cirebon Prujakan railway station and buses travel throughout the city.