World Monuments Watch
Central Java, Indonesia

1996 World Monuments Watch

The popularity of a religious site can threaten both its spiritual quality and its physical fabric. Unless ways can be identified to provide for an improved presentation of Borobudur, serious compromise of the visitor experience and deterioration of the monument will continue. For centuries, pilgrims have traveled from throughout the region to experience the majestic expression of the serene Mahayana Buddhist world view, expressed in the temple's “stairway to enlightenment” layout and illustrated in the carved panels that encircle it. Tourism and site management plans, which are the last phase of the UNESCO restoration launched in 1972, have not yet been fully realized, but efforts continue to address the questions of uncontrolled spread of vendors on site and the growth of visitor facilities. A site management strategy that addresses both short-term and long-term preservation and economic concerns is needed.

Since the Watch

Visitor management has continued to pose a challenge to Borobudur, even though frequent inspections find that the monument remains in a good condition. Borobudur is the country's most visited attraction, and has struggled with issues such as the flow of vehicular traffic, the large concentration of vendors, and the encroachment of commercial buildings and infrastructure. Although the site was unaffected by the earthquake that struck Java in May 2006, in 2010 the strong volcanic activity of Mount Merapi deposited a thick layer of ash on the monument, which was promptly removed. UNESCO has closely monitored the condition of this World Heritage Site and has offered assistance in the form of expert missions and workshops. February 2011

Last updated: June 2018.

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