Top 5 cultural sites in South Sulawesi

Grave Cemeteries in Tana Toraja, Lemo

Grave Cemeteries in Tana Toraja, Lemo ©Arian Zwegers/Flick

According to the Torajan mythology in South Sulawesi the partiarch of the nation descended from the sky with a boat to the Mountain of Kandora. The traditional Tangkonan houses are built on stilts and their top curls in the front and back. This form reminds us of the form of the Torajan ancestor’s vessel who came to this area about 20 generations ago. The houses are faced to north, toward s the Kandora Mountain.

A Torajan beliefs of South Sulawesi are a unique blend of animist and Christian elements, the majority is still in following the cult of the ancestors, that defines every ritual act. These rituals related to death and afterlife seem to be feasts for an observer.

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Tana Toraja

The tourist center of Tana Toraja in South Sulawesi is Rantepao at 328 km from Makassar to the north. The climate of this city lying at an altitude of 700 meters above the sea level is pleasantly cool, especially in the evening. The entrance of Tana Toraja is indicated by a traditional boat-shaped gate.

The villages have a strict social hierarchy, the marriage or funeral ceremonies of some authoritative men take several days. Water buffaloes and pigs are sacrificed in an amount according to the social status of the person, then the deceased’s body is placed in a coffin and put in one of the cells carved in the high cliffs. The cavity of the cell is guarded by a tau tau, a life-like statue of the deceased symbolizing. This is looking down from a balcony next to the cell, taking care of the family and friends who are left behind. Two villages, Lemo and Londa, have cliff graves that can be easily reached.

Traditional architecture of Tana Toraja

Traditional architecture of Tana Toraja ©Shanghai Daddy/Flick


Soppeng was the seat of an early kingdom according to the ancient lontara records. An other attraction of this city in South Sulawesi is its great bat population.


Sengkang is the seat of the Wajo Regency in South Sulawesi and is the center of the famous Bugis silk industry at 240 km in the northeast of Makassar. In the silk factory of Sopeng is produced the silk thread from the silkworm cocoon. In the roadside dwellings you can see the process of silk weaving. The finest silk fabrics are made on the loom of the village women; a weaver can produce two meters of silk a year. The visitors are welcome, they can watch them at work, and if there are finishedarticles, you can also buy them.


Sengkang ©alantankenghoe/Flick


Ketekesu in South Sulawesi well worth a visit because of this village has many great shops selling traditional craft products. In the hillside behind the town whole size tau tau ​​sculptures are guadring the old coffins.

Grave cemeteries

Londa has the oldest cave cemetery, several local nobles were buried there. In the villages, young guides equipped with kerosene lamps are waiting for you to show the coffins of the cave cemetery. In Lemo were carved larger burial chambers into the rock and several balconies are filled with tau tau ​​statues. In the rock wall are also recently dug caves, where are buried whole families.

Grave Cemeteries in Tana Toraja, Lemo

Grave Cemeteries in Tana Toraja, Lemo ©Arian Zwegers/Flick


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