As part of the Maritime Silk Road, the island of Ternate was an established anchor point for a wide range of cultures long before Europeans arrived. Thanks to its geographical and climatic coordinates, the island is one of the few places in the world that is home to the Myristica Fragrans and the Caryophyllus Aromaticus, the fruits of which we know as nutmeg and clove. Their trade shaped Ternate’s destiny for many centuries, so much so that the region around the island came to be known as the ‘Spice Islands’.
With an area of around 111 km², Ternate is a rather small island, but densely populated and with a lot of sights. Reflecting its turbulent history, the ruins of old fortifications left behind by the Portuguese, Spaniards and Dutch can be explored. The spice plantations of nutmeg, cinnamon and cloves on the slopes of the volcanic mountain Gamalama evoke times long past and provide wonderful shady viewpoints of the magical island world.
As an important trading centre for centuries, Ternate has attracted people from far and wide.
Quite a few of those visitors stayed and today the island continues to play a central role in the region. Thanks to its good transport links and its proximity to Manado, Sulawesi, Ternate is the main gateway to the province of North Maluku.
Built in colonial times to control the spice trade in the region, are to be found the remains of some old fortifications that the Spaniards, Portuguese and Dutch have left behind. Their fragile charm is a reminder of turbulent times and the enormous importance the spice islands once had…an enchanting journey into the past of the Moluccas islands.
The Sultanate of Ternate is one of the oldest sultanates in Indonesia and Ternate’s Royal Family still plays a major role in island life today. However, the kingdom is currently without a ruler as the successor of Sultan Mudaffar Sjah, who died in 2015, has yet to be decided.
As an island, Ternate is not particularly large, but it is by no means short of impressive picnic spots. An island tour of the local sights should therefore definitely include a photo stop at one or two of the viewpoints.
Ternate’s mountain, Gunung Gamalama, is actually a stratovolcano rising from the sea that over time formed the island. The Gamalama is an active volcano and signs of earlier volcanic activities can be seen on the island.
Although a large number of different ethnic groups are located here, the muslim faith is predominant on Ternate and there are numerous places of worship, in particular mosques, to serve the faithful.
Even though Islam plays a central role, everyday life on the island is often accompanied by traditional spiritual traditions. A journey to Ternate, to the Moluccas, is a journey into a different world!
As the island which gave origin to the clove, numerous clove plantations can still be found on Ternate. Three of the world’s oldest clove trees, known locally as Cengkeh Afo, are hidden in one of the slopes of the Gamalama. This trio miraculously survived the deforestation carried out by the Dutch East India Company in an attempt to enforce their monopoly on cloves in the region.
Ternate is densely populated and its streets are very busy, which gives the island a bustling feel not found in the rest of the North Moluccas. Little market stalls are an important part of the street scene.
Away from the hustle and bustle of the island’s capital, especially on the slopes of the Gamalama, there are always wonderful views to be savoured.
- Singapur – Manado (Sulawesi) – Ternate –> Scoot 4 hrs. + u.a. Garuda, Wings 45 min.
- Jakarta (Java) – Ternate –> among others Garuda, Wings, LionAir, Batik 4 hrs.
- Bitung (Sulawesi) – Bastiong (Ternate) –> 18 hrs.
- Jailolo (Halmahera) – Mangga Dua (Ternate) –> 60 min.
- Sofifi (Halmahera) – Mangga Dua (Ternate) –> 45 min.
- Rum (Tidore) – Mangga Dua (Ternate) –> 10 min.