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On the most southern tip of the Sulawesi lies the capital of the island. It is the largest city in Celebes with nearly 900.000 inhabitants. Makassar was, until very recently, known as Ujung Pandang and it is a city with a glorious history of sailors and worriers.

Gateway to Toraja

Makassar is the main entrance to the highlands to the north. During the economic and political crisis that started in 1997, Merpati Nusantara Airlines ceased operation of the flight from Makassar to Toraja. One used to be able to fly there in a 14-seater in less than an hour. Nowadays, there is a very good and reliable bus service that takes you there in about 8 hours. (See: How to get there & By bus). Hopefully, with renewed efforts to promote tourism to the country, airline services to Pongtiku Airport in Toraja will be resumed in the near future.

Short History

Makassar's history dates back to at least the 14th century. It became the islands major town towards the 16th century thanks to various kingdoms such as Gowa and Tallo and the so-called nomads of the sea, the Bajau-people.

In the 17th century, when Makassar had already been in extensive contact with Islam, the city grew enormously and became a center of trade and commerce. This trend continued during the following decades, with initially slaves, and later on with pearls, copra, sandalwood as the major commodities. In 1938, with a population of more than 700,000 people, Makassar was given the status of capital of virtually the entire eastern half of Indonesia.

After the Second World War, the city grew even further and extended in all directions. The name Ujung Pandang (sometimes used by Bugis and Makassar traders) was given to the city in the mid seventies. Ujung Pandang has an important state university named after Makassarese Sultan Hasanuddin, and the number of smaller kampungs towards the east have created a whole new urban area of which today's Panakkukang is a part.

Recently, in December 1999, the municipality of the city decided to change its name back to Makassar.

Makassar today

 

Makassar is a bustling city with inhabitants from all over the archipelago. There is influx from Java, Bali, other parts of (South) Sulawesi and eastern Indonesia. Also, the ethnic Chinese play a major role in the city's economy. A few years ago, perhaps the biggest mosque (on Jl. Mesjid Raya) of eastern Indonesia was built. Its colouring is very unusual and well worth a picture.

It is the city of commerce and communication, and for many people a place to escape the restraints of village life. There are many hotels, especially in the more expensive class, and for those who have a night or two to spare, there is plenty of opportunity for relaxation and entertainment. One of the most interesting ways of spending an evening in Makassar, is going to see the Pantai Losari (Losari Beach), which, apart from a variety of quality restaurants, boasts a row of food stalls that seems to go on for ever. Here you can eat local food at real bargain prices. Watch the cooks make their nasi goreng, roast their fish or prepare their mie kuah, and enjoy your meal!

Sightseeing in the city

After the Dutch, together with the Bugis people, conquered the main Makassarese fortress ('banteng'), they called it Fort Rotterdam. Today, the fortress is still the main attraction of the city and houses a library, a museum and archeological archives. North of the fortress, in the area that was formerly called 'Kampung Belanda', confined by today's Jl. Nusantara and Jl. Jampea, lived the Europeans and Chinese. A stroll around this area is well worth a morning in spite of the fact that many historic buildings were demolished when the modern harbour was constructed in the early nineties. Meander down the many narrow streets, and try to absorb the atmosphere of Makassar's past.

If you want to see the famous large sailing ships, the perahu pinisi, you go to Paotere Harbour in the north. There, you will find a colourful spectrum of boats being (un)loaded, fishermen going about their business and emptying their nets full of swordfish, tuna, octopus etc. Today, this harbour remains a centre of commercial maritime transport. You will see hundreds of sacks of rice or sugar and tons of wooden planks imported from Kalimantan, destined to go to other major cities as Jakarta and Surabaya.

Another attraction of Makassar are the four major Chinese temples. The oldest and probably most attractive is the 'Temple of the Heavenly Queen' (Tian Hou Gong) on the corner of Jl. Sulawesi and Jl. Serui.

Where to stay

Top class hotels

Hotel Pantai Gapura
Sidona Hotel
Makassar Golden Hotel
Victoria PanghegarHotel
Hotel Sahid Makassar
Marannu City Hotel
Losari Beach Hotel
Hotel Yasmin
 

Middle Class Hotels

Pondok Suada Indah
Makassar City Hotel
Kenari Pantai
Delta

Hostels & Losmen

Legend Hostel
Pondok Wisata