The city of Makassar is the largest city in the eastern part of Indonesia and is therefore the trading center and airline hub that connects the western Indonesian islands with the eastern islands of the archipelago.
For centuries Makassar has been a strategic trading port where merchants from India, China, the Indonesian islands, and later the Europeans came to exchange their goods for local export commodities that include gold, silver, pearls, silks, coffee, and spices that were gathered from surrounding regions. Until today Makassar still has that aura of the old cosmopolitan trading center, where majestic Phinisi sailing ships can be seen tied to the pier at the Paotere harbor.
For Makassar is indeed the home of these majestic wooden sailing ships that until today continue to ply the archipelago carrying cargo, but have lately been transformed into romantic and luxurious live-aboards for tourists to dive sites at Raja Ampat, Komodo, Bunaken. Bali and more.
The Bugis and the Makassar are widely renowned seafaring people and are admired for their sailing and fighting prowess, who settled as far away to the Riau islands in the west, and Papua in the east. However, Makassar was conquered by the Dutch East India Company, who made Makassar their trading center in the east to be close to the Spice Islands that were the Moluccas.
Today, Makassar has become a modern city, boasting an array of top star-rated hotels along the coastal boulevard. But walk into a side street and you may well think you are back in the 19th century.
To get you on your way to sightsee around Makassar, here are a number of must-see landmarks:
1 | Fort Rotterdam
Fort Rotterdam was built by the Dutch to defend the city from invading ships, which in the 19th century included the British. The fort stands on the grounds which, since the 16th century was once the seat of the powerful Bugis kingdom of Gowa. This is one of the few fortresses in Indonesia that have remained intact, so that it is interesting to see how these old forts were constructed. From its parapet you can overlook the entire shore of Makassar way to the horizon in the Bay of Makassar were lie the Spermonde islands. It now houses the Museum of Makassar and South Sulawesi as well as the legendary books called the Il La Galigo. If you are interested in this Dutch heritage fort log on to: http://www.indonesia.travel/en/destination/point-of-interest/fort-rotterdam.
2 | Pantai Losari: The Losari Beach walk and the Orchid Gardens
West of Makassar is the popular Pantai Losari, or the Losari Beach Walk, which is the best place to watch the tropical sun slowly sink over the horizon. This place becomes busy near sundown when hawkers come to sell all kinds of yummy foodstuff including mouthwatering seafood, while lovers await the setting sun beyond the blue sea. Not far from Losari Beach is the C.L Bundt Orchid Garden and Collection of Seashells, a favorite spot for tourists to visit.
Most upmarket hotels are also located within walking distance from the Losari Beach.
3 | The Somba Opu Street Shopping Haven
Also close by is Jalan Somba Opu, or the Somba Opu Street, which is your Shopping street where you can find anything and everything ranging from gold and silverware, pearls from Ambon, Bali woodcarving, silk sarongs or hand-woven fabrics from Toraja, and a whole lot more. For details and what to shop, click on the following link : http://www.indonesia.travel/en/post/makassar-s-culinary-specialties-crabs-seafood-and-coto-makassar
4 | Chinese Temples
Makassar has a number of Chinese temples, the oldest and most important is the Tian Hou Gong temple, or “The Temple of the Heavenly Queen” located on the corner of Jalan Sulawesi and Jalan Serui, which was built in the 18th century. The other is the Long Xian Gong, or “Temple of the Apparition of the Dragon” which is also between Jalan Sulwesi and Jalan Bali, built in 1868.
This area comes definitely alive during Chinese New Year and at Cap Goh Meh with clanging lion dances and lots of festivities.
5 | The Paotere Harbor
The Paotere harbor is located some 4 km north from the city center. If you love old sailing ships then this location is definitely a must visit to take fantastic photographs. Nearby is one of Indonesia’s largest fish markets where you can find giant tuna, giant crabs and every sea creature you can imagine on sale. The place is busy from morning to late afternoon.
6 | Trans Studio Makassar
Image by Trans Studio
But if you prefer something more modern and entertaining, then the Trans Studio Makassar is your attraction. This is the world's third largest indoor theme park (as of 2009) and includes the Trans Hotel, a residential area, Trans Walk and Rodeo Drive, recreational beach and office area. Here is the perfect place for a fun family adventure because the park offers all the thrills and spills of a regular theme park. The difference? It is indoors and air-conditioned so you don't have to worry about rain or heat.
7 | The Bantimurung Waterfall and the Kingdom of Butterflies
For beautiful Nature, take a ride outside the city and visit the Bantimurung Waterfall in the Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park. This is a favorite place to wade into the pool and splash under the quite strong flow of the waterfall. Next to the waterfall are steps to walk up along the river to the kingdom of butterflies. Beware, the stairs are slippery and it is quite a walk to trek up the hill to where you find the butterflies. This region holds at least 150 species of butterflies most of which cannot be found elsewhere in the world.
8 | The Ballalompoa Museum
If you are interested to know more of the history of Makassar visit the Ballalompoa Museum located in the former palace of the Sultan of Gowa. Every morning at 09.0 local time an impressive “Changing of the Guard” takes place on the plaza in front of the Museum. Wearing resplendent bright red costumes, “soldiers” involved in the “Changing of the Guard” at the former Gowa Palace will perform their drill, which is open to the public.