Fort Rotterdam: A 16th Century Old Dutch Stronghold

Fort Rotterdam: A 16th Century Old Dutch Stronghold

As a Dutch guy born and raised near Rotterdam in The Netherlands, of course I had to visit the old Dutch stronghold in Indonesia named Fort Rotterdam. Also, I love visiting old historical sites and I felt it was only appropriate that I also took a look at this old place. Besides, there are not that many interesting historical places in Makassar. So, my options of sightseeing were somewhat limited.

Many people in Indonesia and elsewhere commonly say that the Dutch colonised Indonesia for 350 years, but that is not exactly true. Sure, some parts of Java were occupied since the arrival of the Dutch, but many kingdoms and regencies throughout the archipelago offered resistance until many decades, or even centuries, into the Dutch invasion. Of course, this doesn’t make the colonisation less wrong, but it is what it is. Besides leaving behind cultural and traditional influences, the long history of the Dutch presence in Indonesia also resulted in an architectural legacy. There are many old historical buildings scattered all over the archipelago that date back to the Dutch colonial time. Some of these places are well-maintained and preserved, while others are not that lucky. That said, I think Fort Rotterdam, an old fortress dating back to Dutch colonial times, is one of these historical buildings fortunate enough to get some maintenance and preservation.

Arriving at Fort Rotterdam, you will notice that there is no entrance fee. Instead, a small donation was kindly asked. You may pay whatever you want, but I think about IDR 10.000 is appropriate. Looking from afar most of the buildings at the Fort seemed to be in a well-maintained condition. But on closer inspection there was a lot of graffiti and vandalism on the walls, which was kind of a sad. I mean, this is a public building and part of Indonesia’s heritage and history. People should take care of this instead of scribbling “blablabla was here” on the walls. But it happens everywhere I guess, even the Pyramids of Giza aren’t safe from this.

One of the buildings of the Fort used to be a prison and it housed the famous exiled Javanese Prince Diponegoro in the 19th century. Another building of the Fort was transformed in a small museum explaining some history of Fort Rotterdam, Makassar, and the culture and traditions of Sulawesi. The square in the center also occasionally holds cultural events of all kinds.

Overall, Fort Rotterdam is a nice place to stroll around in for an hour or so. And there’s a good chance that you’ll encounter busloads of enthusiastic school kids in the area, since it is a popular place for excursions.

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