The present huge mansion is not 'Buitenzorg' though; this was destroyed by an earthquake and a new palace was built on the site a few years later in 1856.
In colonial days, deer were raised in the parklands to provide meat for banquets, and through the gates you can still see herds of white-spotted deer roaming on the immaculate lawns. The Dutch elite would come up from the pesthole of Batavia and many huge, glamorous parties were held there. Following independence, the palace was a much-favoured retreat for Soekarno, although Soeharto has ignored it.
Today the building contains Soekarno's huge art collection of 219 paintings and 156 sculptures (which is reputed to lay great emphasis on the female figure), but the palace is only open to the public by prior arrangement. The tourist information centre can arrange tours for groups or you can write directly to the Head of Protocol at the Istana Negara, Jalan Veteran - Jakarta. You need to give at least five days notice. If a tour is going the tourist information centre will try to include interested individuals. Abu Pensione (see Where to Stay page) also makes regular bookings for tours.