Close to the center of the modern city is the smaller palace of the Kraton Mangkunegaran. Built in 1757 after a bitter struggle against the founder of Surakarta, Pakubuwono II, by his nephew Raden Mas Said, who was later crowned Pangeran mangkunegoro I. Although smaller, this kraton is more intact and is a bit more interesting that its bigger neighbor.
The royal family still lives in the back of the palace, but most of the rest is open to the public for guided tours.
Tours of the Kraton are by guided tour only. Our guide from the palace my our visit was a rather matronly lady who told us to call her "Fifi." She's retired now, but the guide on my second visit in 2011 was just as good. Inside the palace is a huge pendopo pavilion, used mainly for dance performances. Behind the pavilion is the old audience hall, now a museum with a few intriguing items. Among these was a "chastity belt" for men. Yes boys, there really is such a thing, and since it was for a prince, its gold plated! The size was rather small, though. Of course, there was also a belt for the princess. Fifi obviously thought the old Javanese elite were much more fair-minded than their European counterparts of the time. She also introduced us to the prince's herbalist, who of course had things to sell that were "only available in the palace." Among the items on offer were face powders, weight-reduction pills and a powder for making a tea with the same effects as Viagra. "Drink this and after one hour you will be quite strong." Fifi told us.
Beside the audience hall are reception rooms and a garden with caged song birds scattered around here and there.
Admission is 10,000 Rupiah (0.60 USD), which includes a guide. If you want to use your camera inside, there's another 5,000 Rupiah (0.30 USD).