Standing majestically at the western coast of Makassar, South Sulawesi. Fort Rotterdam is recognized as the city’s most iconic landmark. With historical traces dating back to the Kingdom of Gowa from the 16th century to colonization by the Dutch, this Fort has silently witnessed many episodes in Makassar’s history, playing a most essential role in its development.
Its magnificence and authenticity has always captivated those who set eyes on it. Originally called Benteng or Fort Jumpandang or Ujung Pandang, the huge complex was first built in 1545 in the era of Imanrigau Daeng Bonto Karaeng Lakiung or Karaeng Tunipalangga Ulaweng, the tenth King of Gowa. Initially, the fort was made from a mixture of Stone and burnt clay, and took the shape of a typical square Portuguese architectural style.
The fort was also expanded and took on a new shape resembling a sea turtle, thus the fort gained a new name, Benteng Pannyua (Penyu) or Fort Sea turtle. The shape is not only unique, but also contains deep meaning. For just as a sea turtle lives both on land and at sea, the glory of the Gowa Kingdom also stretched on land as well as over the seas.
Indeed, the Bugis were then a recognized and respected power all across the Indonesian seas even to the Straits of Malacca. Governor General Speelman subsequently rebuilt parts of the fort that were destroyed. Not only applying Dutch distinct style to the structure, Speelman added another bastion at its west side. The fort was later renamed after Speelman’s hometown, Rotterdam. The fort grew to be the center for stockpiling of spices and an important Entrepot. Eventually this led to Makassar becoming the center of the Dutch Colonial government in Eastern Indonesia.
Located right in the heart of Makassar, it is not difficult to get to Fort Rotterdam. You can take the local public transportation or pete-pete, or taxi to get to the fort. If you are happen to be in Losari Beach, you can simply stroll down the boulevard and enjoy the scenery before you reach Fort Rotterdam.