The rough but energetic city of Makassar is one of Indonesia’s principal ports. It’s a seething maelstrom of shipping and commerce, with a multilingual population of Bugis, Makassarese, and Chinese residents. But as the town has few sights, and the pollution and tropical heat are unremitting, travelers rarely stay long in this neighborhood. However, there are some brilliant attractions in Makassar worth exploring.
Things to know about Makassar
Makassar was the old capital of the Bugis kingdom (Gowa Sultanate). The Bugis were recognized throughout the province as fierce, proud warriors and pirates and extremely skilled mariners, and before the Dutch army slaughtered them, they had a grand empire and influence in what the Europeans called the “Spice Islands.” The Bugis also traded throughout the area, and you can find Bugis tribes today in many distinct parts of Indonesia as well.
How to reach Makassar?
Sultan Hasanuddin International Airport acts as the principal hub for flights to Eastern Indonesia, encompassing the entire Sulawesi island, Papua and Maluku. There are numerous flights from Indonesia’s capital, Jakarta, as well as other towns such as Bali and Surabaya.
If you want adventure and have time, you can take a boat ride to Makassar as well
Top Attractions in Makassar
- Beteng Somba Opu: Once the most impressive fortress in the archipelago, Somba Opu was destroyed by the Dutch in 1669 CE, then overwhelmed by the Jeneberang River delta. One extensive wall was unearthed in the 1980s and 1990s as part of a short interest in historical preservation that also saw the construction of numerous houses and a beautiful museum.
- Fort Rotterdam: One of the most amazing preserved examples of Dutch naval architecture in Indonesia, Fort Rotterdam, was constructed on a Gowanese fort built to resist the Dutch East India Company. Having failed to bypass the Dutch people (orang belanda), it was restored by the new masters of Makassar after their 1667 CE conquest and includes many well-restored, excellent colonial structures.
- Asmaul Husnah 99 Kubah: On the restored waterfront opposite Pantai Losari, this charming bright-orange-and-white domed mosque is destined to become a significant Makassar attraction. Reach it by crossing the exciting ‘Centre Point of Indonesia’ globe sculpture and a new cable bridge shaped like a traditional Torajan house (tongkonan).
- Pelabuhan Paotere: Pelabuhan Paotere, a couple of miles north of the town center, is a comprehensive port where Bugis sailing ships deck. It’s a working port with necessary bustle and grime, but the ships are photogenic and usually friendly. The nearby fish market and port are atmospheric places from morning until early afternoon when tuna and every ocean creature imaginable are traded.
What to eat in Makassar?
Pisang epe can be hogged at Losari Beach. It is a smoothed grilled banana, usually served with melted sugar—available with cheese and chocolate topping and seasonal (durian) flavor. Buroncong, a morning breakfast cake, can be hogged at Losari Beach. People bake them on firewood. It’s made of flour, grated coconut, etc. Sop Saudara, a legendary South Sulawesi soup, can be tried almost anywhere. It contains liver, meat, lung, brain, etc. However, you may pick the ingredients you need in your soup. You can also try Nasi Kuning, which is essentially a bowl of yellow rice served with different dishes. There are numerous restaurants serving crab dishes. Traditional restaurant offering mixed Indo-Chinese food are everywhere.