The Most Beautiful Ancient Palaces in Indonesia

Taman Sari Water Castle in Yogyakarta | ©Purwanto/Flickr
Taman Sari Water Castle in Yogyakarta | ©Purwanto/Flickr
Photo of Edira Putri
29 June 2017

Many historical buildings and sites in Indonesia are older than the country itself, dating back to the era when the wonderful land was governed by separate ancient kingdoms. The historical and cultural heritage of those kingdoms are still cherished today — visited and studied, telling stories through generations. Discover the most beautiful ancient palaces in Indonesia.

Keraton Ngayogyakarta Hadiningrat

Building, Forest, Museum
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Interior of the Yogyakarta Palace
Interior of the Yogyakarta Palace | © Danumurthi Mahendra/Flickr
Located in a gorgeously lush banyan forest in the historical town of Yogyakarta, this palace was first built in the 1700s for the royal family of Yogyakarta. Since then, the palace has been raided, revitalized, modified, suffered natural disasters, and rebuilt, several times. This complex still serves as a functioning building for local traditional authorities, but tourists can visit some parts of the ancient palace, including the museum filled with ancient artifacts owned by the sultanate.

Ubud Royal Palace (Puri Saren Agung)

Buddhist Temple
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© Horizon Images/Motion / Alamy Stock Photo
This exquisite palace with strong Balinese architecture was the center of the Ubud Kingdom during Indonesia’s ancient kingdom reign. Ubud was and still is Bali’s hub for art and culture, a feat reflected in the sophisticated palace that still holds various cultural performances regularly, from traditional music to theater and dance. The ancient royal family lineage of Ubud still lives in this palace, but some parts of the building are open for tourists, where they can observe the traditional impressive interior and decoration with Balinese-style stone carvings.

Taman Sari Water Castle

During the 1700s, this water castle served as both a fortress and recreational site for the royal family of the Yogyakarta Sultanate. The beautiful palace complex with refreshing large pools also has rooms to meditate, study, and rest. The huge compound comprises of four areas, including the iconic bathing complex, an artificial lake, and gardens. Now, the palace is preserved as a tourist attraction, and visitors can explore parts of the delicate palace from outside and inside.

Taman Sari, Patehan, Yogyakarta City, Special Region of Yogyakarta, Indonesia

Taman Sari Water Castle in Yogyakarta | ©Maarten van der Bent/Flickr

Maimun Palace

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Maimun Palace in Medan, Indonesia
Maimun Palace in Medan, Indonesia | ©Alifiyan Rosyidi/Flickr
This historical landmark in Medan, North Sumatra, belonged to the Sultanate of Deli, established in 1888. Designed by a European architect, this palace is cherished for its eclectic interior, featuring elements of Malay cultural heritage, Middle Eastern architecture, Dutch ornaments, as well as influence from Spanish and Italian architecture. This ancient palace now serves as a museum, showcasing various historical artifacts, photographs, and weaponry.

Keraton Kasepuhan Cirebon

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Keraton Kasepuhan Cirebon, Indonesia
Keraton Kasepuhan Cirebon, Indonesia | ©Kars Alfrink/Flickr
As the oldest palace in one of the oldest Islamic ancient kingdoms in Indonesia, this palace complex is remarkably well-maintained. It was built in 1447 with a mixture of architecture from Sundanese, Javanese, Dutch, Islamic, and Chinese. Although Cirebon is now administratively a part of the Republic of Indonesia, the descendants of the Sultan still live in the palace. Even so, tourists are welcome to explore parts of the palace, including the museum room that showcases royal heirlooms and chariots.

Siak Sri Indrapura Palace

Located in Riau Province in Sumatra, this palace belonged to the Sultanate of Siak Sri Indrapura that reigned from 1723 until Indonesia’s independence in 1945. The palace was designed by a German architect after the Sultan made a journey through Europe, so the architecture embraces both European and Malay influence, filled with ornaments and furniture from Europe. Today, the palace is a popular tourist attraction, offering a glimpse of the royals’ life during the era. Tourists can observe various weapons, utensils, and musical instruments used by the royals.

Istana Siak Sri Indrapura, Kampung Dalam, Siak Regency, Riau, Indonesia

Photographs inside the Siak Sri Indrapura Palace | ©siska maria eviline/Flickr

Candi Ratu Boko

Archaeological site, Building, Ruins
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Candi Ratu Boko
Candi Ratu Boko | ©ilhamsaibi/Flickr
Most of the relics from Hindu-Buddha kingdoms in Indonesia are in ruins, as their governance dates back to as early as the 4th-century. Candi Ratu Boko is among those who remain enough to be observed and studied. Archaeologists conclude that this site was a palace for the Mataram Hindu Kingdom in the 8th-century. The exquisite building is perched on top of a hill, embellished with stone carvings of the Hindu gods and figures. The structure is made of stones and those who have visited would agree that the historical site has a charming mythical feel.

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