Fort Somba Opu
Fort Somba Opu (Makassarese Baruga Somba Opu, Indonesian Benteng Somba Opu) was a fortified commercial center of the
Somba Opu grew on one of the two oldest area in Makassar, the Kale Gowa (Tamalate) and the Tallo'. The Kale Gowa was located on elevated ground on the north bank of the Jeneberang River, around six kilometers from its mouth. Both areas feature walls which encompass a very large area; the perimeter totals about two kilometer. Within the walls were sacred coronation stone on which new rulers (karaeng) took their oaths of office, a sacred spring, and the tombs of the rulers. Many Chinese and Sawankhalok porcelain were discovered around these sites, possibly from the 16th century. For Kale Gowa, the walls were built by King Tumapa'risi' Kallonna (1512–1548)
In the 16th century, the karaeng Tunipalangga (1548–1566) gave permission to the Malay merchants to establish a trading port in the port of Makassar. They were allocated a site at Mangallekana, on the coast just south of Jeneberang river. The area quickly became a trade center, which is confirmed by the title of the Shahbandar (port master) of that period, I Daeng ri Mangallekana. The importance of this Malay fort means that a new capital is required near the trade center. So Tunipalangga instructed the construction of a new fortress to the north bank of Jeneberang river, about a kilometer away from the mouth of the Jeneberang at that time.
Somba Opu became the heart of Makassar during the long duumvirate of
Sultan Alauddin of Gowa Kingdom and
Destruction of Somba Opu began with the signing of the
Bungaya Treaty in 1667 between the Sultanate and the Dutch, and the subsequent war in 1669. Attack of the fort began with
Assault of Somba Opu began on 14 June 1669 with the igniting of the explosives placed in a secret tunnel. The blast created an opening about 27.5 meter side in the wall of Somba Opu. The fort defenders reacted by sending 25 warriors to block the attackers from breaching in, while others began to erect wooden stakes to close the hole. Speelman decided to ask for the assistance of the soldiers from Batavia. While Speelman gathered his forces, Somba Opu was reinforced with more troops.
Somba Opu proved a strong fort to be defeated. The attackers suffered 50 dead and 68 wounded, among them were several Dutch and native officers. On 22 June, after a 6 days of continuous rain, Arung Palakka decided to led his Bugis, Bacan and Ambon soldiers to enter the breach in the wall. The attack by Arung Palakka was fierce, forcing the Somba Opu warriors to abandon the breach as the Bugis and their allies breached in. Despite the rain, the Bugis managed to set up fire to force the Makassar soldiers to retreat from the eastern and western bastions of the citadel. The Makassar soldiers reestablish their defenses at the southern half of Somba Opu. During the retreat, the Makassar soldiers utilized the largest cannon of Somba Opu, the
Anak Mangkasar ("Child of Makassar"), which was heaved over the side of the northwestern bastion. As the Dutch-Bugis army advanced from the west, a report came mentioning that the Makassar forces had fled and abandoned Somba Opu.
As soon as Somba Opu fell, 8,000 Bugis began to seize the booty, among the most sought item were porcelain and copperwork. By the time Speelman and Arung Palakka arrived at the Sultan's residence in Somba Opu, everything had already been stripped bare. The Dutch made certain that Somba Opu would never be used again by throwing all the guns found on the ramparts. There were 33 cannons weighing about 46,000 pounds (21,000 kg) and eleven weighing about 24,000 pounds (11,000 kg), 145 small guns, 83 gun chambers, 2 stone-throwers, 60 muskets, 23
Somba Opu was rediscovered in the 1980s, on the island formed by two major mouths of the present Jeneberang river. The fort was reconstructed in 1990. A 9-meter cannon has been discovered in the fort, as well as other artifacts which were collected within a nearby site museum.
The fort is somewhat forgotten. It is strange that very little attention has been paid by either the Dutch or the Indonesians to the strongest fort ever built by Indonesians, as well as the scene of one of the fiercest battles they ever had to fight.