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ArchitecTour: Two Days Exploration in Yogyakarta

"Dit, I'm in Jogja, let's meet up later," said a friend who had just set foot at Yogyakarta International Airport. After two years of PPKM, PSBB, and the like, Jogja is finally lively again, especially after travel restrictions have been eased. People who have restrained themselves from traveling and postponed office outing agendas are finally starting to travel again.

For me, traveling is a necessity. I once wrote about why architects need to travel, one of the reasons being that architects need to continuously develop their insights, knowledge, and perspectives. Personally, I enjoy city tours, and lately, I've started exploring architectural tourism, even if it's just touring around the city of Jogja and its surroundings. It feels great to explore old buildings, visit unique cafes and restaurants, or stay overnight in hotels with unique and interesting architecture. Especially when done using public transportation, cycling, or walking.

Yogyakarta, as an alternative tourist destination, has many architectural masterpieces to explore, especially for those who are fans of heritage buildings. If you have 48 hours for a tour, here is the route and architectural tourist attractions in Jogja that I recommend.

Day One

Some of the places below are a bit far apart. You might need to use online transportation services to reach them.

09.00 - Prambanan Temple

The first architectural tourist attraction is Prambanan Temple, one of the largest Hindu temples in Indonesia and a UNESCO World Heritage site. Prambanan Temple consists of 3 Trimurti Temples (Shiva, Vishnu, and Brahma), 3 Vahana Temples (Nandi, Garuda, and Angsa), 2 Apit Temples, and 4 Kelir Temples located at the four cardinal points just behind the entrance to the inner courtyard or core zone. The temple layout follows the mandala pattern, while the towering temple forms are characteristic of Hindu temples. Within the Prambanan temple complex, there is also Sewu Temple, which is no less interesting. Unlike Prambanan Temple, which is a Hindu temple, Sewu Temple is a Buddhist temple. So in one Prambanan temple complex, we can enjoy several different temples, including Sewu Temple, Lumbung Temple, and Bubrah Temple.

Entrance Fee: Adults Rp 50,000, Children Rp 25,000

Candi Prambanan
Prambanan Temple. Image by Adityuwana

12.30 - Sabin by Seken Living

It's worth stopping by Sabin for lunch. If possible, arrive before mealtime (if you don't want to be on the waiting list). The architecture is unique, with a main industrial-style building. The elongated land is utilized for a restaurant, coffee shop, store, multipurpose area, and garden. The open concept gives a sense of spaciousness and freshness. Because it's open, air circulation inside the building can flow smoothly without being hindered by walls or dividers. Another uniqueness is in the choice of building materials dominated by steel and wood. The abundance of vegetation makes the overall 'hard' impression of the materials softer.

Sabin Seken Living
Sabin by Seken Living. Image by Adityuwana.
Sabin Seken Living
The main building is predominantly composed of steel and wood. Image by Adityuwana.
Sabin Seken Living
The garden is complete with a fish pond. Image by Adityuwana.

15.00 - Malioboro & Kilometer 0 Point

You haven't been to Jogja if you haven't been to Malioboro. You can explore this iconic Jogja street by walking from Tugu Station to Kilometer Zero Point. In addition to shopping activities, along the way, you will encounter many architectural tourist attractions and colonial buildings, starting from Hotel Grand Inna, Rathkamp Apotheek (now Kimia Farma), Beringharjo Market, Vredeburg Fortress, Gedung Agung, Bank Indonesia Building, Main Post Office, and BNI 46 Bank Building located at Kilometer Zero Point.

Stasiun Tugu Jogja
Yogyakarta Station. Image by Adityuwana.

If you delve deeper, some attractions and interesting objects can be found in Kampoeng Ketandan, a Chinese cultural assimilation area, Keraton, and the citizens of Yogyakarta. The atmosphere in this village is dominated by ancient buildings. Another interesting area is Sosrowijayan Street, which is a tourist village. Spend time enjoying the atmosphere in this area until dinner time.

Kampoeng Ketandan.
Kampoeng Ketandan, Yogyakarta. Image by Adityuwana.

19.00 - Via-Via Cafe

Via-Via Cafe is a popular choice for many foreign tourists visiting Yogyakarta. They serve a variety of Indonesian and Western foods, in line with the theme "East Meets West, West Meets East." Located on Prawirotaman Street, this building was designed by architect Eko Prawoto with an environmentally friendly concept, using natural materials and open arrangements that allow the room to have good air circulation even without air conditioning. Via-Via Cafe also serves as a hub for backpackers and a place for exhibitions by young Yogyakarta artists.


Day Two

Unlike the first day, the second day is spent exploring the city center of Yogyakarta, visiting architectural tourist attractions that are mostly heritage buildings.

07.30 - Sapulu Coffee

If you want to enjoy Jogja in the morning, try visiting Sapulu Coffee. This coffee shop opens early and is located right at a Guest House called Chendela. Although the place is a bit small, the atmosphere is interesting and colorful. You can have breakfast here before starting the second day of the Architectural Tour in Jogja.

Sapulu Coffee.
A colorful of Sapulu Coffee. Image by Adityuwana.

09.00 - Taman Sari

Taman Sari is a former garden complex of the Yogyakarta Palace built during the reign of Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwana I. The complex used to cover an area of about 10 hectares, consisting of buildings, canals, underwater tunnels, and artificial lakes. Currently, visitors can only enjoy three main areas: Umbul Wingangun (Bathing Pool), Sumur Gumuling (Underground Mosque), and Pulo Kenanga. The architectural style in the Taman Sari complex is a blend of Javanese and Portuguese architecture.

Entrance Fee: Rp 5,000 (+Rp 3,000 for a photo permit if using a professional camera)

Taman Sari Water Castle
Umbul Winangun in Taman Sari. Image by Adityuwana.
Taman Sari Water Castle
Gapura Agung (left), and the ruins of the Pulo Kenanga. Image by Adityuwana.

Before continuing the journey, take the time to visit Soko Tunggal Mosque located at the entrance to the Taman Sari complex. Built since 1972, this mosque is unique with its single supporting pillar, unlike other Javanese traditional buildings that have four supporting pillars.

Masjid Soko Tunggal
"The main gate and pillars of the Soko Tunggal Mosque. Image by Adityuwana.

11.00 - Yogyakarta Palace

Yogyakarta Palace is the official palace of the Yogyakarta Sultanate built by Sri Sultan Hamengkubuwana I in 1755. The Yogyakarta Palace complex stands on an area of ​​14,000 square meters and consists of several areas stretching from the North Alun-Alun to the South Alun-Alun. Each area in the palace complex has Joglo-shaped buildings, each with its own function. Each main area consists of a courtyard covered with sand from the south beach, separated by dividing walls. The buildings in the Keraton complex are styled with Javanese architecture, but some parts show influences from foreign cultures such as Portuguese and Dutch.

Entrance Fee: Rp 15,000 (additional fee for a photo permit if using a professional camera)

Keraton Jogja
The main pavilion of the Yogyakarta Palace. Image by Adityuwana.

Right across from the Yogyakarta Palace, there is Gedhe Kauman Mosque. Built in 1773, this mosque affirms Yogyakarta's existence as an Islamic kingdom. The architectural style of Gedhe Mosque inherits the style of Demak Mosque, with the main building having a square tajug shape covered with a three-tiered roof, representing the stages of pursuing knowledge: tasawuf, namely syari'ah, tareeqat, ma'rifat.

13.00 - Nest Coffee & Donuts

Want to have coffee and lunch? My recommendation is Nest Coffee & Donuts. Like Sabin, this place is also part of Seken Living. Opened in 2020, the building's shape is very eye-catching from the street. This work by Tim Tiga Arsitek carries an industrial and environmentally friendly concept with many open areas. Nest Coffee also presents many interesting architectural details. The mass arrangement is very well organized with clear zoning between dining areas and furniture galleries. Unfinished walls throughout the building surface, the use of reclaimed ulin wood on the building floor, and the arrangement of pieces of reclaimed wood as wall partitions are some unique features to enjoy.

Nest Coffee Donuts Jogja
The interior gallery features a unique concept. Image by Adityuwana.
Nest Coffee Donuts Jogja
The concept of environmental friendliness. Image by Adityuwana.
Nest Coffee Donuts Jogja
Full of intriguing details; interwoven as ventilation, louvered doors, arrangement of recycled wood pieces. Image by Adityuwana.

15.30 - Kotagede

The Kotagede area, famous for its silver craftsmanship, was the former capital of the Islamic Mataram Kingdom established in 1532. In this area, there are many historical relics, both in terms of building architecture and socio-cultural life. Gedhe Mataram Kotagede Mosque and Raja Kotagede's Tomb, located side by side, are two must-visit tourist attractions. This mosque is the oldest mosque in Yogyakarta, built around the 1580s.

Entrance Fee: Free

Kotagede Jogja
The gate of the tomb of the Kings of Mataram in Kotagede. Image by Adityuwana.

If you walk about 50 meters south of the mosque complex, you will find 'Between Two Gates,' or Kampung Alun Alun. 'Between Two Gates' is a small alley part of a semi-closed residential environment flanked by gates at both ends. This environment is formed by a number of joglos consisting of dalem and pendhapa arranged in a row. This alley indicates the harmony of the community in Kotagede.

Entrance Fee: Free

Kotagede Jogja
Several houses on the Between Two Gates alleyway. Image by Adityuwana.
Kotagede Jogja
Kotagede alleyway. Image by Adityuwana.

If you have more time, you can explore Kotagede even further. Some interesting places you can see are Perak Mosque, Persik House, and UGM House. Oh, by the way, the best way to get around Kotagede is on foot because the streets are quite narrow.

18.00 - Warung Bu Ageng

Located on Tirtodipuran Street, this restaurant is known for its home-cooked meals. The building is traditional, dominated by reclaimed wood from local wood traders in Jogja. The traditional impression is further enhanced by the use of furniture made from the same material. On one side of the building's wall, there is a collection of black and white photos of famous Indonesians born and raised in Jogja. If you visit here, I recommend trying the Grilled Shredded Chicken Mixed Rice and Duren Mlekoh Porridge. Warung Bu Ageng is closed on Mondays.

Warung Bu Ageng Jogja
Warung Bu Ageng interior. Image by Adityuwana

Warung Bu Ageng is the last destination of the Jogja architectural tour. If you still have time after dinner, try stopping by Alun-Alun Kidul, which is not far from Warung Bu Ageng. You can see the bustling atmosphere there with colorful lights from cycling cars, or you can try walking blindfolded through the twin banyan trees.

Happy traveling, guys!



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