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The old Makassar
Cosmopolitan kingdom at the coast

Generations of travellers have gone to Makassar (formerly Ujung Pandang) over sea, and that's still the best way go get to this attractive city. Makassar, the only Indonesian city which truly hugs the sea, it built along several small stretches of coastal plains, which look towards the west over Selat Makassar (Makassar Strait). For the English sea captain and novellist Joseph Conrad it was 'the most beautiful, and maybe most clean city of all cities on these islands'.
You will be most concious of the sea when being in the crowds of the prahu-harbor Paotere or on one of the fish markets. And on Jalan Penghibur, where you can see the passing fishing boats from the foodstalls. The heavy outlines of Fort Rotterdam dominate the central part of the city along the water.
The modern city stretches much more inland; the road to the airport has replaced the waterways as access point to Makassar. Where the modern buildings of the government and regional meeting rooms give an impression of the city's inland expansion, the main part of the city remains concentrated in the historic center. The business district stretches around north of the old fortress, where archeological remains of over threehundred years old can be seen. Here you can feel the heartbeat of a big Asian city.

Merchants and sea nomads

The original name of the city, Makassar (or Mangakassara), dates back to at least the 14th century. In the 16th century it was the most important seaport and political power of Sulawesi. This had it's background in the growing influence of the kingdoms of Gowa and Tallo, and in the maritime force of the Bajau, the 'sea nomads'. Around 1550, Malay merchants settled in the city and about two decades later the first mosque was said to be built. Between 1600 and 1630 the city grew quickly, and in that time it was one of the biggest locations of trade in Southeast-Asia.
Tallo and Gowa had their own original centers, where kings were crowned and buried. Makassar, merchant city and kingdom, developped in between these two semi-central centers, and was defended by a series of fortresses and a long sealine which stretched along the coast. The most important fortress was Sombaopu ('Honour to the Lord'), which is now partially restaurated, at the mouth of Sungai Berang. It consisted of wooden palaces of the king and the ruling aristocracy, a round mosque and several warehouses and houses. Just north of Sombaopu were the quarters of the Portuguese and the Gujerati from India; south of the fortress were the market, a big residential area with kampung with people from Ternate and Makassarese, and the most important seaport area.
After the defeats against a combined Dutch-Buginese military power, Makassar was forced to surrender the fortress of Ujung Pandang, about seven kilometers north of Sombaopu. The Dutch renamed the fortress to Fort Rotterdam and used it as a base for their operations against the Makassarese. In 1669, Sombaopu was completely destroyed; the sultan of Gowa was forced to move out to the edge of the Dutch city, where he could be monitored.
The small, new city was dominated by the imposing contours of Fort Rotterdam. In 1730 the number of residents only was 5,000, of which 50 percent were slaves. Servants of the Compagny and soldiers were setled in the fortress, while the others, Europeans and Chinese, lived in the small walled city of Vlaardingen. This was limited by the nowadays Jalan Nusantara and Jalan Jampea, and stretched from north of the fortress to Jalan Lembeth. At night the closed part of the city was guarded. This area is the oldest part of the city, with many 18th century buildings still in tact. The names Kampung Belanda (Dutch kampung) and Pintu Dua (two porches), with which the local population still names the area, remind it of it's origin.


A part of the Malay trade community of the old Makassar returned eventually at the end of the 17th century to settle in Kampung Melayu, just north of the walls of Vlaardingen. A little further to the north laid Kampung Wajo, where the Buginese merchants had settled. The area of Vlaardingen, which gradually became more Chinese, would remain the center of trade of Makassar until after the independence of Indonesia.
During the 19th century the economy of Makassar, formerly mainly based on the fortress and the trade in slaves, regained her original role of collection point for products from eastern Indonesia: pearls, seasnails, rattan, sandlewood, copra. And of course the very famous makassar-oild, pressed from the kernel of the bado-tree (Schleichera trijuga).
Because it's economy grew more dynamic, Makassar grew quickly. Early 19th century the number of residents was estimated at 15,000, in 1930 it reached 84,855 and towards 1980 it has reached 708,465. In 1938 Makassar was the capital of the new Dutch super-province, which was named 'The Big East' and concluded entire eastern Indonesia. The royal house of the governor on Jalan Sudirman was inhabited by the Japanese regent during the Second World War, and was the residence of the president of the substate Eastern Indonesia between 1947 and 1950.
The fast growth of Makassar in the 1950's, even more supported by a group of refugees which had fled the fights in the inlands, brought many changed. The former canal behind the fortress was filled and the park was replaced by a post office and other public buildings. The swamps and saltpanes, which bordered the city in the north, were dried to create a construction site for the Hassanuddin University, built in 1956. The eastward expansion of the city lasted. In the early 1970's many streets in the old part were widened, which caused th traditional shopfronts to disappear. A big Chinese and christian graveyard was relocated outside the city and replaced by the current central market and the surrounding commercial area.
In 1971 mayor Daeng Poatompo enlarged the area of Makassar by annexating. Growth had to be paid for by neighboring cities like Maros and Gowa. The name of the city was changed in Ujung Pandang, the name that was originally used by Buginese and Makassarese in the inland. The name of Makassar lived on however in local titles and organisations and the mythical past. In the late 1990's the name Ujung Pandang was abandoned for Makassar again.


    
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