"CIREBON - NEGARA GEDE (THE GREAT KINGDOM) (*under" Cirebon by ancient_traveler

Cirebon Travel Guide: 44 reviews and 86 photos


Cirebon (formerly referred to as Cheribon in English) is a city on the north coast of the Indonesian island of Java. Its name is often said to be derived from the Sundanese words of "Cai" (or river) and "Rebon" (or "shrimp"). (Indeed the main production of the city is fishery including shrimps).

The alternative Javanese derivation is from "Caruban", meaning "mixture"--a reference to Cirebon's complex mix of Javanese, Malay, Sundanese, Chinese and Arabic cultural elements. While Indonesians from outside Cirebon pronounce the name CHEE-ray-bone, locals say Cher-BONE.

Cirebon itself is known as Grage in the Cirebon dialect of Javanese language, which came from the words "Negara Gede", meaning "Great Kingdom."


Wali Songo, especially Sunan Gunung Jati, is known to have influenced the city's history. Sunan Gunung Jati's grave is located several kilometres outside the city, in a district called Gunung Jati. There are two temples and a cave system built by two Chinese architects around the 1880s, decorated by Chinese and Western porcelain.

Although surrounded by Sundanese-speaking areas in West Java, linguists have stated clearly that Cirebon (and the historically related region of Serang city in Banten Province) are Javanese language areas. In addition, this is supported by the Cirebon people referring to themselves as "wong Jawa" ("Javanese people"), and to their language as "basa Jawa" ("Javanese"). However, the Cirebon dialect is sufficiently different from the dominant south central Javanese dialect that it is sometimes assumed to be non-Javanese by outsiders.

As a coastal city, Cirebon's main industry is fishery. Its products include terasi (shrimp paste), shrimp crackers and salted fish. Cirebon is known for local foods, such as nasi lengko (rice mixed with bean sprouts, fried tofu and fermented soybean cake), nasi jamblang (rice of various side dishes), empal gentong ( a kind of curry ), tahu gejrot (fried tofu with red sugar topping), tahu tek-tek (fried tofu topped with peanut sauce and mixed with vegetables) and ayam panggang (barbecue chicken). Another native food is "Docang" (rice cake with sour vegetable soup).

Pros and Cons
  • Pros:good for food lover
  • Cons:beggars
  • Last visit to Cirebon: Mar 2010
  • Intro Updated Aug 19, 2012
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  • AlbuqRay's Profile Photo
    Nov 9, 2008 at 2:45 PM

    Excellent tips on an interesting place, Aisa. I liked your historical references. Okay, we now know that you are a full-fledged VT member because you take pics of all your food! :)


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