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Sejak abad ke-17 Kerajaan Cirebon dibagi atas tiga kekuasaan yaitu Sultan Kasepuhan, Kanoman dan Kacirebonan. Namun pusat kegiatan politik, sosial dan budaya terpusat di kraton Kasepuhan. Kraton yang dibangun pada tahun 1527 adalah istana tertua dan yang paling terjaga keasliaanya di Cirebon.

Kraton yang terletak di Ujung selatan Jl. Lemah Wungkuk ini memiliki gaya arsitektur perpaduan antara Sunda, Jawa, Islam, Cina dan Belanda. Kraton ini merupakan tempat tinggal dari Sultan Kasepuhan, namun sebagian besar dari kraton ini dapat dikunjungi oleh wisatawan. Didalam Kraton terdapat Paviliun yang dindingnya dihias dengan ubin Delftberwarna putih dan biru, lantai dari marmer serta beberapa lampu antik dari Perancis tergantung di langit-langit.

Kraton ini memiliki museum dengan koleksi antara lain wayang golek, keris, meriam, mebel, dan berbagai senjata buatan portugis dan kostum kerajaan. Koleksi Museum yang paling mengesankan adalah kerata Singa Barong, sebuah kereta perang kerajaan peninggalan abad ke 17 yang memiliki bentuk mewakili beberapa unsur kebudayaan yang ada di Cirebon. Kereta yang ditarik oleh kerbau putih ini memiliki belalai yang menyerupai gajah (Hindu), badan kepala menyerupai naga (cina) dan sayap (Islam).

Bagian lain dari Kraton Kasepuhan Cirebon antara lain alun-alun yang merupakan tanah lapang yang berada di depan gerbang Kraton, Gerbang Geledeg yang merupakan pintu masuk ke halaman Kraton di mana terdapat taman yang berbentuk bundar yang dinamakan Bundaran Dewan Baru, disini terdapat pohon saka dan patung dua ekor macan putih, bagian Kraton lainnya adalah Masjid Agung Cirebon.

Kraton ini di buka setiap hari dari jam 8 sampai 16, kecuali hari jum'at dari jam tujuh sampai 11 dan dilanjutkan lagi dari jam 14-16 sedangkan hari Minggu Kraton dibuka dari jam 8 hingga jam 17. Wisatwan dapat meninjau Kraton Kasepuhan dengan ditemani seorang pemandu. Di halaman Kraton yang luas ini sering diadakan latihan menari.

Pada tahun 1479 Masehi Syarif Hidayatulah berkuasa dan mem-bangun Keraton Kasepuhan yang dinamakan Keraton Pakungwati. Bergelar Sunan Gunung Jati. Pada tahun 1527 Sunan Gunung Jati mengangkat anaknya sebagai kepala pemerintahan di Banten dan bergelar Sultan Hasanuddin. Sejak abad ke-17 Kerajaan Cirebon dibagi atas tiga kekuasaan yaitu Sultan Kasepuhan, Kanoman dan Kacirebonan. Namun pusat kegiatan politik, sosial dan budaya terpusat di kraton Kasepuhan.

Cirebon's most famous palace is Kraton Kesepuhan and is located on the southeastern fringe of town behind a large square. To enter the palace grounds you have to register and pay a fee. A ruler named Pakungwati built the first palace here in 1446. You can see its thick brick walls if you keep left just after entering. Behind a gate with a sign warning "No women allowed" is a meditation gazebo erected at that same time. It is still in use today. Not only is the sheer expanse of the old palace quite astounding but also the degree to which these old walls have been preserved.

A later palace was erected in 1529 by Prince Mas Mohammed Ariffin. The first thing you see of it is the Siti Injil, an open square surrounded by brick walls, which were erected without using mortar, and split gates in a style reminiscent of Balinese architecture. This structure is oriented toward the hillock called Astana Gunung Jati (see "Other Sights" below). On the front facing the square you see tiles and plates imbedded in the brick wall. Behind it are the more modern parts, notably the reception hall, Javanese in design but with 18th century European furniture. Noteworthy too are the Dutch wall tiles, the blue ones showing scenes of Holland, the brown ones depicting biblical history. The main access from the driveway leads at an oblique angle to this hall, apparently for mystical reasons.

In the western part of the compound is a small museum displaying a gamelan set from 1426, wonderful inlaid wooden boxes of Egyptian origin (Pakungwati's father was from Egypt), stunning Portuguese body armor from 1527, and other historical items. Opposite the museum is a hall where a carriage from 1549 is kept. Its body is shaped like a winged horse, obviously an allusion to Bouraq, the horse that took Prophet Mohammed to heaven. It has the trunk of an elephant, a mouth like Garuda's, and two Naga dragons, all artistic elements closely related to Hindu culture.

Kasepuhan is also known as Pakungwati Palace after the name of the daughter of Prince Cakrabuwana, the sultanate’s first ruler who built the palace in 1446. Pakungwati married Sunan Gunung Jati, one of nine highly respected Muslim saints in Java. He renovated the palace in 1483 and used it as Islamic education centre. In 1529 new building was added by Prince Mas Mohammed Arifin the great grandson of Sunan Gunung Jati.

Entering the Palace, the first thing you see is a Hindu-styled split gate named Gapura Adi. It is similar to the gate of Balinese Hindu temples. This red brick gate leads you to Siti Hinggil area, a square surrounded by mortarless thick red brick bearing wall. Siti means land in local language and hingil means high. This area was built on a level higher than any other areas of the palace to symbolize the divinity of the member of the royal family. There are five wooden pagoda-like pavilions in the area used for royal ceremony. The structures are covered by wooden roof and have no wall. They roofs follow the style of traditional local houses.

Cirebon was one of the busiest ports in Java. It was a place where many cultures intermingled. As a meeting place of many cultures, Kasepuhan Palace has a unique mix of Pre Hindu, Hindu, Islamic, Chinese, European and Javanese architectural styles

Cirebon, also spelled as Tjirebon or Cheribon (Dutch), Charabom (Portuguese) or Cerbon (Sundanese) is a city in West Java province, Indonesia. It is located on Java Island’s Northern Coast, approximately 297 km from Jakarta, the capital of Indonesia.The name Chirebon comes from the word “chi” means water or river and “rebon” means shrimp. The city gets its name because of the abundance of fresh water shrimp found in local rivers.

Based on old manuscript written by a Hindu monk, Prince Bujangga Manik, who travelled across Java and Bali in the 16th century, the city was founded in the 13thcentury by Ki Gedeng Alang-Alang as part of Padjajaran Kingdom, the biggest kingdom in West Java at the time. The seaport of Cirebon, was one of the most important harbor and main entry to the fertile Java Island







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