Surosowan Palace (also known as “Keraton Surosowan”) was the thriving center of the Banten Kingdom. Built in the 16th century as the primary residence of Maulana Hasanudin, the first sultan of Banten, this fortress-palace originally covered over 30,000 square meters. Designed by Muslim Dutchman Hendrick Lucas Cardeel, the site is known for its majestic bathing pools used by members of the royal family, as well as pavilion fountains and an impressive aqueduct and irrigation system that was connected to a nearby reservoir.
The palace was also protected and encircled by a thick, two-meter high perimeter wall and a moat with waters that led to the sea. But despite its splendor and architectural ingenuity, history was not particularly kind. After a fatal attack by the Dutch East India Company in the 19th century, the palace was reduced to ruins.
While the glory and grandeur of Surosowan Palace may be long gone, there’s some lingering mystical activity going on within the walls of this ancient archeological site. Legend has it that two tigers (one white, the other black) still prowl the site at night near the Old Banten Square. They’re named Sikuk and Sikumbang and are believed to have been the sultan’s pets. But in order to catch a glimpse of them, you have to say the special Arabic phrase or prayer known as salawat.
Another legend has do with bathing angels. Locals say you can catch a glimpse of “eight beautiful angels” or ghostly women near one of the royal bathing pools, which is now simply a ruinous green pool. One of the angels is called Putri Kembang, or the “Flower Princess.”
Ancient excavated relics and artifacts from the palace’s heyday can be found in the nearby Old Banten Archeological Museum. In front of the museum, near the mosque, you will find a cannon (called Ki Amuk) with Islamic inscriptions. According to this site, legend says that the person able to put their arms around it will see all their wishes and desires come true.
Know Before You Go
Admission to the site is free.