Off the beaten track in Makassar

Makassar is not really a tourist destination. It is a major port and most foreign visitors are seamen but there are some sights worth seeing.

Fort Rotterdam

This Dutch-built fort sits in the heart of the town. Behind its robust walls are a number of buildings which would look right at home in Holland.

One is a museum called La Galigo, named after an ancient book written in the local Bugis language. The fort has been well preserved but more could be done to turn it into a world class attraction.

It is interesting to compare this Dutch East India Company fort with the English East India Company fort. The English one looked more solid and better designed for defence but the Dutch one looked more comfortable for its occupants.

Since disease was a bigger killer than invaders in those days, the Dutch were probably right to concentrate on comfort and hygiene.

Makassar has seen enormous urban regeneration but a few buildings have survived from colonial times including:


Mandala Monument

This striking monument commemorates the wresting of West Irian (Papua) from Dutch control in 1962 and its eventual integration into Indonesia.

Losari Beach

There is no longer any actual beach on this stretch of waterfront in the centre of town but it is a popular place for locals to hang out, eat and watch the sunset.

Fish Market

Like all fish markets in this part of the world, a tolerance for strong smells and gory sights is required to visit this colourful and lively place, especially the fish-gutting section.

Paotere Harbour

This is the best place in Indonesia to see traditional wooden Bugis sailing schooners (prahus) being loaded and unloaded.

Street Markets

There are a couple of street markets in Makassar, lined with kambing (goat) stalls and even though the goats were not tethered they obediently stayed in their stalls, oblivious to the fate which awaited them. Similarly the chickens were also patiently waiting to be bought.

Benteng Somba Opu

Benteng Somba Opu on the outskirts of Makassar has examples of the amazing Tongkonan traditional houses with the curved boat-like roofs. There are also replicas of other stilted houses and a museum.


Toraja Church

The Toraja Church is decorated with tribal motifs. The steel towers, instead of bearing crosses, are topped with a couple of parrots.

Vihara Girinaga

This yellow Buddhist temple is not quite complete but it has amazing altars, murals and displays on each of the eight floors of the pagoda, including one floor with a mini Angkor Wat model, very beautifully done at considerable expense.

Bantimurung National Park

This national park is famed for its myriad butterflies. Other attractions include a couple of caves and a very lively waterfall.

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