Built in the late 8th century, Borobudur temple took an army of workers and 60,000 cubic meters of lava rock to construct. Yet despite its massive size and elaborate rows of Buddha statues, it was mysteriously abandoned during the 14th century and sat in the jungle, undiscovered until 1814.
In the style of a step-pyramid, the temple has six square bases, topped with three circular layers and a large main stupa. Pilgrims and visitors alike follow a guided path to the top of the complex, which leads them around the monument a number of times before reaching the peak. Along the way, the path is marked by 500 Buddha statues and thousands of reliefs that depict daily life in Buddhist Java.
At one point in time, Borobudur was the center of Buddhist life in Indonesia, but the adoption of Islam led to a complete abandonment in the 14th century. During the period of British administration in Java, the monument was rediscovered by a Governor-General, and he led the charge over the next 30 years to fully excavate the site and reveal the mysterious lost temple.
Since that time, restoration has become a priority and Borobudur is now protected as a UNESCO site. Despite efforts to protect the temple, a few stupas were nearly destroyed during a terrorist attack in 1985. Despite its beauty, Borobudur is still a Buddhist site in the midst of a country that is 86% Muslim, and thus a target of some tiny, but extreme right-wing groups that have historically opposed large Buddhist monuments.