Once the gateway to Indonesia, Makassar is teeming with vestiges of its Dutch colonial past. The port, also known by its one-time name Ujung Pandang, was part of the Dutch East India Company from 1699 the early 1800s, and then as a part of the Netherlands Indies (or Dutch East Indies) until its liberation after WWII. Street signs follow the traditional European alphabet, so any visitor not versed in the city’s official language of Makassarese needn’t worry about getting lost!
Fort Rotterdam on the western coast of the city is perhaps Makassar’s most iconic landmark. It was from here that trades between Holland and Indonesia was struck and the fort has played a large role in Makassar’s development. Originally named Benteng or Fort Jumpandang, the fort was built in 1545, but has been expanded many times over its long history. Because of the fort’s enormity, it became Indonesia’s centre for stockpiling spices prior to their dispatch to Europe. The building is unmissable – one stroll down the (very pleasant) boulevard will take you right to its gates.
If you feel the call of the wild while in Makassar, fear not, as the Bantimurung Bulusaraung National Park is just 50 kilometres away. The limestone hills, steep karts walls and tropical heat have made the park an ideal breeding ground for butterflies. The park is also home to an immense 15 x 20 metre waterfall that is said to “lift the spirits of all who see it”. Next to the waterfall is Goa Mimpi or The Dream Cave, which has millennia old cave art.