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Top 5 Cultural Attractions in Yogyakarta for your Itinerary

by Ivonne Puspakencana
cultural things to do in jogjakarta

Yogyakarta is one of the top cities you should visit in Indonesia. You can enjoy various types of attractions from cultural, historical to nature tourist attractions. Yogyakarta has it all. If you want to find great cultural attractions, then Yogyakarta is a great choice for you so you can consider historical places in Yogyakarta too.

Yogyakarta is well known for being the cultural soul of Indonesia. For many years, it has been a leader in education as many universities are located here.

Yogyakarta’s rich culture and history make it perfect for culture lovers. Here are the best 5 cultural attractions in Yogyakarta for your itinerary.

  • Prambanan Temple
Prambanan Temple
Best sunset view in Prambanan Temple

Prambanan Tempe is listed in temples in Yogyakarta to gain cultural knowledge. Prambanan Temple is a Hindu temple located 16 km east of the city. This temple also declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Prambanan is comprised of several structures that spread over a large area.

Most of them remain in ruins and there were around 240 temples in the complex. The three largest temples are dedicated to Hindu gods: Shiva (the Destroyer), Vishnu (the Keeper) and Brahma (the Creator).

If you plan to explore Prambanan to learn about the history, you can pay to hire an experienced guide to understand its history and architectural details.

Many tourists also prefer to visit Prambanan to watch for sunset. Besides watching for sunset, these things to do in Prambanan Temple, Yogyakarta are also fun and interesting!

  • Ratu Boko Temple
Ratu Boko Temple
Ratu Boko Temple

Ratu Boko Temple is located on a plateau only three kilometers south of the complex of Prambanan Temple. The precise function of this temple is unknown, however, the experts believe that Ratu Boko was once a palace complex or monastery and built around at the same time as Prambanan.

While exploring the site, you will see stone ruins that are believed to be the remnants of gates, fortified walls, audience halls and shrines.

The most interesting part of this attraction is the elevation, which enables you to overlook the Prambanan Temple complex. It also serves you the great sunset views.

Do you know that you can also afford a combined ticket to go to both Prambanan and Ratu Boko, inclusive with the free shuttle transfers between the two sites? Also spend time reading about what to do in Ratu Boko, Yogyakarta to get the idea of how to spend your time there.

  • Taman Sari Water Castle
Taman Sari Water Castle
Taman Sari Water Castle

Another interesting cultural tourist attraction in Yogyakarta is Taman Sari Water Castle. Taman Sari Water Castle used to be a resting area, workshop, meditation area, defense area and even hiding place.

The castle is divided into four main areas: a large artificial lake with islands and pavilions in the west, a bathing complex in the center, a complex of pavilions and pools in the south and a smaller lake in the east. Also read water castle, Yogyakarta.

  • Keraton or Palace of Yogyakarta
Keraton or Palace of Yogyakarta
The majestic Palace of Yogyakarta

Keraton or Palace of Yogyakarta is the royal residence of the sultanate until today. This complex is watched attentively by the royal guards, serving both ceremonial and security functions.

This palace was built in 1755-1756 for Hamengkubuwono I, the first sultan or king of Yogyakarta. However, it was sacked and looted by the British invaders. Then, it was rebuilt by Hamengkubuwono VIII. Get all the information about Sultan Palace of Yogyakarta.

This palace serves a function as the venue for traditional Javanese performing arts. You can watch gamelan, wayang golek (wooden puppetry), classical dance, Javanese poetry readings, wayang kulit (leather puppetry) and Javanese dance. These types of different performance are exhibited every day.

  • Kota Gede
Kota Gede
Kota Gede

If you find some of the famous sites crowded with people, then you can find an alternative of visiting Kota Gede. Kota Gede is the historic city center contains the remains of the first capital of Mataram Sultanate which was established in the 16th century. You can find the remains of the palace, royal cemetery, royal mosque, and the defensive walls and moats.

Kota Gede is also well known for its silver crafting. So, if you want to enjoy the silver crafting and buy some, you can visit Kota Gede for sure.

  • Tembi Cultural Village
Tembi Cultural Village
Making batik in Tembi Cultural Village

Tembi Cultural Village is a community-run attraction which was established in 1994. This cultural village offers a cultural immersion by its handicraft workshops and other experiences for the visitors.

While you’re here, you can do some activities, such as creating batik tulis by using canting (a pen-like tool used to apply the liquid hot wax onto the fabric). Batik making is more difficult that it seem, but it is really worth the experience.

Then, you can also play gamelan, which is a traditional ensemble of brass gongs. If you love cooking, you can also ask the villagers to teach you to cook their authentic food, such as tempe dele (side dish made of soy) or sagon (traditional cookies made of coconuts).

If you plan to stay for a night or two, don’t worry. You can stay at some rustic homestays in that area.

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