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Palopo resides on the southernmost peninsula of the spider-like island of Sulawesi, one of the main islets of Indonesia. A curious geographical marvel, Sulawesi has a strange shape that has cultivated a diverse and intriguing collection of cultures and landscapes. This incredible variety extends across the length and breadth of the island, within its volcanoes, mountain peaks, and its riverbanks dotted with the rice fields and local villages.
The incredible thing about Sulawesi is that the peaks concentrate at the centre of the island, creating a set of four peninsulas which are better connected by sea than land. Palopo rests in a spot which is perfect for enjoying the treasure trove of delights offered by the islands waters, which are sure to be a paradise for travellers new to snorkelling as well as experienced diners.
In the central highlands of South Sulawesi, you can travel to a village which for all intents and purposes, belongs to another time entirely. This famed “Land of the Heavenly Kings” features central villages where little has changed in the past 100 years- heading just a hundred metres off the tarmac of the roads north of Makassar can have you visiting a living slice of history.
The traditional Tongkonan houses have stood for centuries amidst the towering lush trees of the region, their upward sloping roofs sheltering everything from sacred water-buffaloes to carved rice. An authentic part of Indonesian culture awaits you if you make the worthwhile trip to this village, along with not a few natural highlights. The bright green plateaus and limestone outcrops are perfectly framed by misty blue mountains, giving this otherworldly region even more transcendent beauty.
Known as the Old Mosque, this amazing complex is home to Muslim relics dating back centuries. Home to a fascinating collection of artifacts which is just walking distance away from the centre of Palopo, the Old Mosque has been at the heart of the local culture since its construction. This incredible building is worth your time not least because of its striking architecture- the floor is made from a gorgeous mosaic of terrazzo tiles, while the overlapping roof top mustaka has over three tiers and glinting blue façade which can be seen for miles around.
Museum Batara Guru
Inaugurated in 1920 by one of the heirs of King Luwu, this intriguing museum was created in order to preserve the rich cultural heritage of this unique landscape. The Batara Guru Museum has a collection of over 850 examples of ancient ceramics, manuscripts and calligraphy, as well as a photo galley documenting the development of modern Indonesia.
Palopo has its fair share of street vendors and market stalls. But for an utterly unique shopping experience the Todi gallery is a must visit. In the province of Tana Toraja, skilled and experienced weavers create cloth garments produced by carefully dying individual threads in a kaleidoscope of shades. The extensive showroom is well-run by the locals, and is sure to have something which takes your fancy.
There is no real gourmet scene, but that’s all to the benefit of the authenticity of the food. Local street vendors sell everything from fresh sushi and crab to grill steaks garnished with home-grown vegetables., making for a delicious dining experience which is truly off the beaten track.
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