Taman Sari

Top choice in Yogyakarta

This once-splendid pleasure park of palaces, pools and waterways, built between 1758 and 1765, functioned as the playground of the sultan and his entourage. It's said that the sultan had the Portuguese architect of this elaborate retreat executed, to keep his hidden pleasure rooms secret. Today the complex is in ruins, damaged by Diponegoro’s Java War and an earthquake in 1865, but enough has been restored to recapture its former glory.

Surrounding Taman Sari is a fascinating residential district of traditional Javanese houses, each of which seems to be vying for the most gorgeous bloom or vine, or for the most vocal songbird. The area is home to a community of around 2000 residents, some of whom have set up shop in their front room, selling crafts or offering coffee and snacks.

In the middle of this district, via a labyrinth of small lanes, there's a unique underground mosque with a central open-to-the-sky atrium accessed via an Escher-esque stairway. It's become a popular place for a selfie, and watching locals queue for the privilege of posing on the central stair is part of the experience.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Yogyakarta attractions

1. Kraton

0.26 MILES

Beside the southern alun-alun (main square), Yogya's enormous kraton (palace) is the cultural and political heart of this fascinating city. Effectively a…

2. Museum Kareta Kraton

0.29 MILES

This wonderful old carriage house exhibits the opulent chariots of the sultan. The leather-upholstered and intricately painted carriages tell their own…

3. Mesjid Besar

0.37 MILES

This central, open-air mosque, built in a traditional Javanese architectural style, is the largest in the city.

4. Pagelaran Pavilion

0.38 MILES

Due to a schism in the ruling royal family, there is a small portion of the kraton, overlooking the northern alun-alun, that is walled off from the main…

5. Sono-Budoyo Museum

0.52 MILES

This treasure chest is one of the best museums in Yogya. It is only small but is home to a first-class collection of Javanese art, including wayang kulit…

6. Gedung Negara

0.65 MILES

The seat of power in the Yogya region, this imposing modern-classical complex is closed to the public but makes a good landmark on Jl A Yani.

7. Kedai Kebun Forum

0.66 MILES

This fun, bohemian space is a key haunt for Yogya's arts community. The gallery curates mixed-media exhibitions and hosts pop-up shops, film screenings…

8. Benteng Vredeburg

0.74 MILES

The old Dutch fort, with its impressive moat, is a popular destination for school outings, as it communicates Indonesia's recent history through engaging…