GATEWAY TO THE EAST
As one of Indonesia's most prominent and busiest port cities, Makassar is a melting pot of multiple cultures and languages brought together through commerce and trade. Local Makassarese, Bugis and Chinese residents call this sprawling city home.
In the colonial era, Makassar was the primary gateway to eastern Indonesia, and for centuries, the Dutch took advantage of its strategic location to control much of the trade that passed between the West and the East. You can investigate the city's historical core, which retains considerable colonial charm, around Fort Rotterdam, which includes the remains of an ancient Gowanese fort and some striking Dutch buildings.
The locals are a hospitable and sociable bunch: mix with them in the city's famous seafood warung (food stalls) or join them for a stroll along Pantai Losari. This kilometre-long promenade stretches south to the floating mosque Masjid Amirul Mukminin. It's a good place to catch some sea air and mingle with snacking families.
The city is expanding with new suburbs in every direction. Tanjung Bunga looms to the southwest of the city and may become the centre one day, while Panukkukang to the east is chock-a-block with mighty, modern shopping malls.
One of the best-preserved examples of Dutch architecture in Indonesia, Fort Rotterdam continues to guard the harbour of Makassar. A Gowanese fort dating back to 1545 once stood here, but failed to keep out the Dutch. The original fort was rebuilt in Dutch style, and includes many fine, well-restored colonial structures. You can walk the enclave's ramparts and see sections of the original walls.
The Museum Negeri La Galigo, found inside across two sections, houses an assortment of exhibits, including sailing boats, rice bowls from Tanah Toraja, kitchen tools, musical instruments and ethnic costumes.
Seven kilometres from town to the southeastern outskirts of Makassar you'll find remnants of the former kingdom of Gowa, which includes the tomb Sultan Hasanuddin, the strongest ruler of Gowa from the mid-17th century. Outside the tomb compound is the Pelantikan Stone, on which the kings of Gowa were crowned.
Benteng Sungguminasa, a fort that was once the seat of the sultan of Gowa, is five kilometres further south at Sungguminasa. The former royal residence, now known as Museum Balla Lompoa, houses a collection of artefacts, including gifts from the indigenous Australians of Elcho Island, who have a history of trade with the Bugis. Although the royal regalia can be seen only on request, the wooden Bugis-style palace itself is the real attraction.