The sheer number of temples within the Prambanan Complex is extraordinary, the site is structured in a series of three ‘squares’ which radiate out in size.
A raised central square, has a total of 11 temples, of various sizes, the largest being the Siva (Shiva) temple which towers dramatically at close to 50 metres high. It is flanked by temples honouring the gods Vishnu and Brahma. Three smaller temples sit in front of the larger temples and each of these is dedicated to the ‘vehicles’ or transportation of the gods represented: Nandi, the bull, for Siva; Hamsa, the sacred swan, for Brahma; and the eagle Garuda for Vishnu.
The second square radiates out symmetrically and contains paths through to the central square, as well as 224 smaller temples of identical design. These temples are known as perwara temples, meaning guardian or complementary. Although most of these smaller temples are currently tumbling ruins, a few have been restored and it is not difficult to imagine the sheer magnitude of what was once here.
A third and final square was also walled at some stage, is not on the same axis as the central two, and does not contain religious artefacts. It is thought that this area would have been for those involved in ceremonies to prepare offerings, and for buildings to house resident priests and pilgrims. These buildings no longer remain as the materials used have not survived over time.