7 Best Religious Tourist Destinations in Indonesia You Must Visit

Visiting religious tourist destinations in Indonesia is something every traveler must try. Mixtures of influences have motivated people to build religious sites and worship buildings with beautiful and unique characteristics. Here are several famous places to put in your itineraries.

Istiqlal Mosque

Currently hailed as the largest mosque in South East Asia, Istiqlal Mosque is a famous landmark in Jakarta. The mosque can accommodate up to 200,000 worshippers, and it often becomes a photography object. People not only visit this mosque for praying, but also doing various activities or events. The president and other officials often pray here, including when they receive foreign guests who are also Muslims.

There is a unique history of this mosque. The construction project was proposed by Soekarno, the first Indonesian president. The architect was Fredrich Silaban, who was a Christian, symbolizing the commitment to keep the harmonious relation between different beliefs.

Tanah Lot Temple

If you visit Bali (or even just see the pictures), you will see Tanah Lot Temple being featured a lot. Located in Tabanan, this seaside Hindu temple perch atop a tall rock formation. Pilgrims and tourists can climb to the temples using stairs. The view is exceptional, especially during the sunset.

Tanah Lot Temple is one of the many sea temples Balinese Hindus consider sacred. This temple is a venue for various religious activities, so visitors must act respectfully. Odalan is one of the prominent religious ceremonies performed in this temple every 210 days.

Blenduk Church

If you love seeing old churches in the modern city, visit Blenduk Church in Semarang, Central Java. Formally known as the Protestant Church in Western Indonesia Immanuel Semarang, it was built in 1753. Additional renovations in 1787 and 1984 gave the church its iconic dome. This copper dome became the origin of the church’s more popular “Blenduk” name (mblenduk means “dome-like” in Javanese).

Blenduk Church shows the element of Neo-Classical design in its architecture. The interior of the church is very elegant, with a mixture of Javanese and European elements. This church is not only a worship place but also a famous landmark and vintage photography object.

Maha Vihara Mojopahit and Sleeping Buddha Statue

Maha Vihara Mojopahit is a unique Buddhist temple in Trowulan, East Java. It does not look like a typical Buddhist temple and resembles a traditional Javanese joglo house instead. The interior is very elegant, combining elements of Javanese and Chinese designs. You may probably mistake it for a regular traditional house or even museum until you see rows of Buddha statues on its entrance.

The most famous feature of this temple is, of course, the Sleeping Buddha statue. You can see it by walking to the back of the temple and crossing the small bridge to reach the statue area. The foundation is adorned with bas reliefs that describe the story of Buddha.

Central Java Grand Mosque

Central Java Grand Mosque (Masjid Agung Jawa Tengah) is another spectacular mosque in Indonesia that has traditional elements in its architecture. Look closely, and you will see mixtures of Javanese, Middle Eastern, and even Rome! The mosque has two wings that flank a large yard, complete with circular pillar formations that will remind you of St. Peter’s Basilica.

This mosque is located in Semarang and used for both worship and public activities. You can climb the 99-meter Asmaul Husna Tower to see the amazing view. The mosque also keeps a giant Al-Qur'an, created by a calligrapher named H. Hayatuddin.

Besakih Temple

Another iconic temple in Bali, Besakih Temple is considered the largest and most important by locals. This temple is located in the slopes of Mount Agung, and it is a beautiful photography object, especially during the sunset and sunrise. Besakih actually consists of 23 small temples in one compound, not a single temple.

This temple is a venue for at least 70 religious rituals and events, and there are parts of the temple that can only be entered by worshippers. Besakih Temple also has elements from pre-Hindu times in its buildings, which were developed into parts of the temples.

Cheng Ho Mosque

If you think all mosques have Middle Eastern-style architectures, think again! Cheng Ho Mosque in Surabaya, East Java, is famous for its Chinese-style architecture and design, despite its purpose as an Islamic worship place. This mosque was built to respect the name of Admiral Cheng Ho, a famous Chinese Muslim explorer who had visited several islands in Indonesia during his voyage.

At first glance, the mosque resembles a Chinese temple, with curved green terrace, a pagoda-like structure, dragon and lion statues, and bright red exterior. Look closely, and you will see golden Arabic inscriptions that flank the door. This mosque accommodates about 200 worshippers. You can see the statue of Admiral Cheng Ho in the back of the mosque.

These religious tourist destinations in Indonesia show diverse backgrounds and influences, creating unique influences in their designs. Make sure to witness them in their original glories when you come!