Top 10 Ancient Temples to Visit in Yogyakarta

Yogyakarta, a bustling city on the island of Java, Indonesia, is renowned for its rich cultural heritage, exquisite architecture, and ancient temples that reflect its historical significance. Steeped in tradition and spirituality, Yogyakarta offers visitors a glimpse into the past through its well-preserved temples. In this article, we’ll explore the top 10 ancient temples you must visit while in Yogyakarta, each with its own unique charm and historical significance.

1. Borobudur Temple

Borobudur Temple, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Yogyakarta. Built in the 9th century during the reign of the Sailendra dynasty, this colossal Buddhist monument is adorned with intricate carvings and stupas. Visitors can explore its nine stacked platforms, each representing a stage of enlightenment, while enjoying panoramic views of the surrounding lush landscapes.

For travelers interested in spiritual experiences, Borobudur offers a serene atmosphere for meditation and reflection, especially during sunrise or sunset. Additionally, the temple hosts Vesak celebrations annually, attracting pilgrims from around the world to commemorate the birth, enlightenment, and death of Buddha.

2. Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Temple complex, also a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a masterpiece of Hindu architecture in Indonesia. Constructed in the 9th century, this awe-inspiring temple complex is dedicated to the Trimurti, the three main Hindu deities: Brahma, Vishnu, and Shiva.

Visitors can marvel at the towering spires and intricate stone carvings that adorn the temples, depicting epic Hindu legends and mythological scenes. Prambanan is not only a religious site but also a cultural treasure, with regular performances of traditional Javanese dance and music held at the nearby open-air theater.

3. Ratu Boko Temple

Ratu Boko Temple, perched on a hilltop overlooking the Prambanan Temple complex, offers visitors a glimpse into ancient Javanese royal life. Believed to have been built in the 8th century during the Sailendra dynasty, this archaeological site features ruins of a palace, temples, and a bathing complex.

Exploring Ratu Boko allows visitors to appreciate the grandeur of ancient Javanese architecture and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. Sunset is an ideal time to visit, as the fading light casts a magical glow over the ruins, creating a truly memorable experience.

4. Plaosan Temple

Plaosan Temple, also known as the ‘Temple of the Thousand Buddhas,’ is a hidden gem nestled amidst rice fields in central Java. Dating back to the 9th century, this Buddhist temple complex consists of two main temples, Plaosan Lor and Plaosan Kidul, surrounded by numerous smaller stupas and shrines.

Visitors can admire the exquisite stone carvings and statues that adorn the temples, depicting scenes from Buddhist scriptures and daily life in ancient Java. The tranquil surroundings make Plaosan an ideal destination for those seeking peace and serenity away from the crowds.

5. Pawon Temple

Pawon Temple, located between Borobudur and Mendut temples, is a small yet significant Buddhist monument dating back to the 9th century. Despite its modest size, Pawon Temple boasts exquisite stone carvings and ornate reliefs, showcasing the craftsmanship of ancient Javanese artisans.

While exploring Pawon Temple, visitors can appreciate its architectural symmetry and spiritual significance, as it is believed to have served as a resting place for pilgrims en route to Borobudur. The temple’s proximity to other major landmarks makes it a convenient stop for travelers exploring the region.

6. Mendut Temple

Mendut Temple, situated near Borobudur, is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Central Java, dating back to the 8th century. This sacred site is famous for its large statue of Buddha seated in a meditative posture inside the main chamber.

Visitors can marvel at the intricate carvings and reliefs that adorn the temple walls, depicting scenes from Buddha’s life and teachings. Mendut Temple is also renowned for its annual Vesak celebrations, attracting pilgrims and visitors seeking spiritual enlightenment.

7. Kalasan Temple

Kalasan Temple, also known as Candi Kalibening, is a 9th-century Buddhist temple located near Prambanan. This ancient monument is celebrated for its unique blend of Indian and Javanese architectural styles, evident in its intricate carvings and ornate decorations.

Exploring Kalasan Temple offers visitors insight into the cultural and religious exchange between Java and the Indian subcontinent during the ancient period. The temple’s serene atmosphere and historical significance make it a must-visit destination for history enthusiasts and spiritual seekers alike.

8. Sambisari Temple

Sambisari Temple, buried beneath volcanic ash for centuries, was rediscovered in the 1960s, revealing a hidden gem of ancient Javanese architecture. Dating back to the 9th century, this underground Hindu temple is dedicated to the god Shiva and features a single main shrine surrounded by four smaller temples.

Visitors can descend into the temple’s inner chamber to admire the stone carvings and sculptures depicting various Hindu deities and mythological figures. The discovery of Sambisari Temple provides valuable insights into Java’s rich cultural heritage and the region’s historical significance.

9. Ijo Temple

Ijo Temple, perched on the slopes of Mount Ijo, offers breathtaking views of the surrounding countryside and Prambanan Temple complex. Built in the 10th century during the Mataram Kingdom, this Hindu temple is renowned for its unique architectural design and panoramic vistas.

Visitors can climb to the temple’s summit to witness spectacular sunsets over the horizon, painting the sky with vibrant hues of orange and pink. Ijo Temple’s tranquil setting and spiritual ambiance make it a popular destination for meditation and contemplation.

10. Sojiwan Temple

Sojiwan Temple, located near Prambanan Temple complex, is a lesser-known archaeological site dating back to the 9th century. This Buddhist temple features a main sanctuary surrounded by smaller stupas and shrines, adorned with intricate carvings and reliefs.

Exploring Sojiwan Temple allows visitors to appreciate the artistry and craftsmanship of ancient Javanese artisans, as well as the spiritual significance of the site. Despite being overshadowed by its more famous neighbors, Sojiwan Temple offers a peaceful retreat away from the crowds.


Yogyakarta is a treasure trove of ancient temples, each offering a unique glimpse into Java’s rich cultural heritage and spiritual traditions. From the majestic Borobudur to the serene Pawon Temple, these architectural marvels continue to inspire awe and wonder among visitors from around the world.

For travelers seeking to explore Yogyakarta’s ancient temples and immerse themselves in the region’s rich history, offers comprehensive tour packages to East Java, Indonesia. With experienced guides and customized itineraries, you can embark on a memorable journey to discover the beauty and mystique of Indonesia’s cultural heartland.