The Haunting History of Sangkala Buana Square: From Execution Ground to Popular Gathering Spot – Hey there, fellow travelers! Today, we’re diving into a fascinating and somewhat eerie piece of history from the heart of Cirebon, Indonesia. Let’s journey back in time and explore the transformation of Sangkala Buana Square, a place that was once feared by the locals but now stands as a vibrant community hub.

A Glimpse into the Past

Imagine strolling through a lively square, bustling with street vendors, cheerful families, and playful children. Hard to believe that this very spot, Sangkala Buana Square in front of the Kasepuhan Palace, was once a site of dread and fear. But yes, in the days of the Dutch East Indies, this square was synonymous with public executions.

The Grim Legacy

Back in the early 20th century, the square was the site where justice was served in the most public and brutal manner. According to an article from the Dutch newspaper De Avondpost dated June 5, 1926, a man named Soetrisno faced his grim fate here. Convicted of murdering a police officer, Soetrisno was brought to the square by horse-drawn carriage, tied to a wooden stake, and executed by a firing squad in front of thousands of onlookers. The chilling details of this execution paint a stark contrast to the square’s current lively atmosphere.

Local Fears and Legends

The northern part of the square, less than 20 meters from the main road and almost directly opposite the palace entrance, was home to the execution stakes. These were two teakwood pillars, embedded in brick bases, that stood as silent witnesses to the many lives ended here. The origins of these stakes are shrouded in mystery, though palace nobles believe they were erected during the era of Prabu Siliwangi of the Pajajaran Kingdom.

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Unsurprisingly, the square became a place to avoid, especially after dark. Locals believed it was haunted by the spirits of those executed there. The fear was so ingrained that many people performed small sacrifices on Thursday nights and other holy days to appease these restless spirits.

The Dutch Intervention

As Dutch colonial power tightened its grip on Cirebon, they sought to abolish these brutal public executions. To them, the practice was inhumane and barbaric. When plans emerged to develop housing near the square, the Dutch authorities requested the Sultan of Kasepuhan to remove the execution stakes. The community was divided—some supported the removal, while others believed the stakes should stand until natural decay took its toll.

To make the square less intimidating, the Dutch cleaned up the area and planted flowers around the stakes, hoping to soften their ominous presence.

A Square Reborn

Fast forward to 2022, Sangkala Buana Square has been renovated and revitalized. It’s now a favorite spot for locals and tourists alike, with plenty of vendors, games, and entertainment options. The square that once echoed with cries of fear and justice now buzzes with laughter and joy.

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