Yogyakarta Sultanate has a lot of interesting building to explore. Most people understandably would go to the Royal Palace (Keraton) to know the rich heritage of the Sultanate. In the palace, you’ll see a lot of relics, a heritage from the previous generations of sultans.
However, a vastly different sight can be found when you are visiting Taman Sari, the former bathing place for the Queens, princesses, and concubines of the Sultans. It was built in the middle of the eighteenth century, during the reign of Sultan Hamengku Buwono I. Here are some of the attractions you can find in Taman Sari, the water castle of Yogyakarta.
This is by far the most popular attraction in Taman Sari. This is the actual bathing place for the Queen, concubines, and princesses. There are two pools separated by a small path. Tall walls are built around the pools to protect the privacy of the royal family.
This is a man-made island in the middle of a man-made lake. There was a luxurious mansion on the island which was also the tallest building in the city. Unfortunately, the mansion was destroyed by natural disasters and now we can only see its ruins.
Another unique place in this complex is the subterranean mosque. To reach this mosque, you’ll need to climb down several flights of five unique stairs. There is a well called Sumur Gumuling with an oculus for natural lighting, all combined to be aesthetically very pleasing view.
Gedhong Gapura Panggung
Even the gate of the garden is also wonderful and instagramable. There are two dragons facing each other at each side of the gate as if to guard the door into the garden. The triangle-shaped gate is adorned with many beautiful ornaments. At the other side of the gate, you can find even more intricate patterns on the wall.
This is another island on this water castle, located to the south of Pulo Kenongo. The name literally means ‘Meditation Island’. True to its name, this is where the Sultans meditate when he is faced with big decisions to make. This island is also the place where the Sultans and his Generals prepare war strategies, cleanse their sacred krises, and keep their war regalia. To reach this island, you have to walk through an underground tunnel.
Gedhong Temanten is the twin guard posts located in the front of the gate. These two small buildings are where the guards are posted with each a small room with a chair. They are called Gedhong Temanten (bride and groom building) because they look similar. Today, these buildings function as a ticket booth.
Even though Taman Sari was made for the Javanese royal family, the architecture itself was heavily influenced by European style, especially the Portuguese one. If you come with an expectation of seeing prime and pure Javanese architecture, you would be surprised because this garden is much more than that.