Forty kilometres west of Yogya, surrounded on three sides by volcanoes and on the fourth by jagged limestone cliffs, is the largest Buddhist monument in the southern hemisphere. This is the temple of Borobudur, the greatest single piece of classical architecture in the entire archipelago. The temple is actually a colossal multi-tiered Buddhist stupa lying at the western end of a four-kilometre-long chain of temples (one of which, the nearby Candi Mendut, is also worth visiting), built in the ninth century by the Saliendra dynasty. At 34.5m tall, however, and covering an area of some 200 square metres, Borobudur is on a different scale altogether, dwarfing all the other candi in the chain. Abandoned and neglected for almost a thousand years, Borobudur was “rediscovered” by the English in 1815, though nothing much was done until 1973, when UNESCO began to take the temple apart, block by block, in order to replace the waterlogged hill with a concrete substitute.

Borobudur is pregnant with symbolism, and precisely oriented so that its four sides face the four points of the compass; the ticket office lies to the southeast.

Travel offers; book through Rough Guides

Indonesia features

The latest articles, galleries, quizzes and videos.

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

26 awe-inspiring architectural wonders

From ancient temples to hyper-modern skyscrapers, these are just a few of the world's most incredible architectural wonders. Whether you're looking to wander l…

01 Feb 2017 • Rough Guides Editors camera_alt Gallery
Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Go solo: the 20 best places to travel alone

Solo travel can be one of the most rewarding ways to explore the world. Whether you'd rather spend it on a desert island or in a frenetic new city, here are th…

21 Dec 2016 • Rachel Mills camera_alt Gallery
Bali travel tips: 10 things to know before you go

Bali travel tips: 10 things to know before you go

With its coral-speckled beaches, luscious green rice terraces and blissful azure seas, Bali has long been a haven for surfers, sun worshippers and yoga junkies …

21 Sep 2016 • Henry Fry insert_drive_file Article
View more featureschevron_right

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month

Join over 60,000 subscribers and get travel tips, competitions and more every month