Maumere, The Biggest City in Flores
Capital of the district of Sikka on the eastern coast of Flores Island, Maumere is the perfect staging place to embark on an unforgettable adventure to unveil the beauty of Flores. The town itself is blessed with a beautiful landscape of hills and mountains complemented with clear green and blue ocean.
Maumere is the biggest city in Flores, larger than Labuan Bajo at the west end of the island. The town used to serve as an alternative for tourists to go to the Komodo National Park aside from Labuan Bajo. While, those wishing to attend Easter celebrations in Larantuka, also start off from Maumere, which is more easily connected by air to other parts of Indonesia.
Located at the narrowest part of the island, from Maumere due south to near the town Nita at Koting village, one can see as far as the Flores Sea to the north and the Savu Sea to the Indian Ocean to its southern horizon.
Today, Maumere is also the stepping off point to see the Three-Coloured Lakes on Mt. Kelimutu on the way to Ende. The village of Sikka, some 30 km from Maumere is the center of weaving in this area. Here visitors can watch, on request, the complete intricate process of ikat-weaving, including dying the threats with natural colors. Another village known for its weaving is Watublapi, which distinguishes itself through the use of symbolic motifs such as lizards, horses, birds and geometrical patterns.
Maumere used to be a favorite snorkeling and diving area, made famous by the Sao Wisata Resort built by Flores own hero, Frans Seda. Unfortunately, the 1992 tsunami devastated parts of the sea and the city. Before that, Maumere was considered by many as the true illustration of “Flores” or Flower of the East Nusa Tenggara Archipelago. After nearly two decades, the town is now reviving, back to its former beauty with the newly renovated Frans Seda Airport (formerly called Wai Oti Airport).
Before the Dutch colonial merchants arrived, Maumere was known as Sikka Alok or Sikka Kesik. Here, traders from China, Bugis, and Makassar often came to trade with the locals. These traders often stayed for days near the seaport called Waidoko. With the arrival of the Dutch, they eventually built government offices in Sikka and gave new names to the area such as Maunori, Mautenda, Mauwaru, Maurole, Mauponggo, and obviously Maumere in Sikka.
Since the majority of its people are Catholic, the town’s existence cannot be separated from the church of Larantuka. Catholicism was first introduced in 1566 by two missionaries from Dominica named P. Joao Bautista da Fortalezza and Simao da Madre de Deos. They initially started their mission in Paga, a small town about 45 Km west of Maumere and were sent by P. Antonio Cruzz from the town of Larantuka. Every year congregations from Maumere head to Larantuka to join in the Semana Santa Easter Holy Week Ritual.
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