Destination Guide: Prambanan
Prambanan is one of the most beautiful temples in the world. In this destination guide, we’ll explain why visiting the famous site close to Yogyakarta is something you shouldn’t miss!
Prambanan is the biggest Hindu temple in the world and is a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1991. While Prambanan still isn’t fully reconstructed, visiting this site is a real highlight when touring through Indonesia. There’s no doubt that visiting this temple is a must if you are into history and culture.
Getting to Prambanan and entering the temple
Prambanan is located about 20 kilometers from the Indonesian city of Yogyakarta and very close to the airport of the city. Thus, you should fly into Yogyakarta to visit this place, but also spend a few days here as there’s a lot to see in the city itself (check out our Yogyakarta City Guide for more information) and around. Particularly, the other impressive temple, Borobodur is a must-see, when you are in the area. Tickets for Prambanan are about 25 US-Dollar per person (for foreigners) and can be put on spot. You can also buy a combined ticket for Prambanan and Borobodur for 40 US-Dollar.
When to visit Prambanan and how to do so on your own
As you enter Prambanan, there are several guides offering their duty, but you can easily explain the temple alone if you don’t feel like learning all that much about history (or have a smartphone with information on hand).
If you visit in the afternoon, the sun will sit relatively far down already, making it a bit difficult to take pictures of the front of the temple.
Nevertheless, the crowds are already getting smaller at this time of the day, making it a good time to visit, in my opinion. Another recommended time to visit are the early morning hours.
What makes the Prambanan Temple so special
While I don’t want to get into history and culture too much here (you can read more about that on Wikipedia etc.), I’ll briefly explain why visiting this temple is so interesting. Built in 850, the temple was left quickly after it was finished and started to decay.
This is one of the reasons why the temple consisting of an incredible number of 250 individual temples, has never been fully re-constructed as there is so much material lacking.
You’ll see the somewhat sad state of reconstruction when walking through the Prambanan Temple as most of the individual temples don’t exist anymore and are basically a stone desert.
Nevertheless, the reconstructed temples (reconstruction started in 1918) in the main area of the temple allows you to see the incredible beauty of this historic relict.
The towers of the individual temples are not only very sharp, but they also come with a unique design and various ornaments.
It’s also possible to enter some of the temples (not all though due to safety issues), which is another interesting experience.
If you are into historic architecture and history, this place definitely feels really special.
Why I really enjoyed visiting Prambanan
Visiting Prambanan is a really special experience for various reasons. First of all, the temple – while only partly reconstructed – looks truly fascinating.
That’s particularly true from the distance as the Prambanan Temple just looks like it was taken from a different time and set into a really beautiful landscape.
Furthermore, I’m fascinated by how the whole temple was reconstructed over and over again, particularly after an earthquake in 2006, which destroyed many of the reconstructed temples again.
Last but not least, I enjoyed that Prambanan is somewhat of a hidden gem, not totally overrun as some other famous UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
There surely are some downsides, too. For example, there are some weird amusement park attractions around the temple, something I really don’t think is necessary at a place like this.
Overall impressions of the Prambanan Temple
Before visiting the Prambanan Temple, I wasn’t really sure what to expect. Yet, I’m really happy I did visit as this is really special and takes you back in time. Something I also enjoyed about visiting Prambanan is the state of reconstruction, which allows you to see how much effort was and is put into the reconstruction, while you also observe the quick decay of man-made monuments. If you happen to be in Indonesia, I’d highly recommend coming here!