Cristo Rei of Dili
East Timor has a colourful history with the Portuguese before Indonesia took hold of it, and this had created some kind of a cultural soup in the small country. In almost every tourist hub one will find a statue of Jesus Christ, a saint or the Virgin Mary. The best example for this is the Cristo Rei of Dili, the famed Statue of Jesus that stands on the east of the coastal city. Its backdrop is Cape Fatucama beach which leads to the peaceful Jesus Backside Beach. A statue of the Virgin Mary also stands overlooking the hilly terrains of Mount Ramelau.
One will not have a complete grasp of a country’s history if they had not visited at least one museum. The Resistance Museum will inform tourists of East Timor’s struggles during the Indonesian-Timorese conflict. The same theme is presented at the Chega Exhibition which chronicles the era of post-Portuguese colonization. The Cementerio de Santa Cruz is simply an old Catholic cemetery but it has become symbolic to the Indonesian occupants’ power tripping acts when soldiers open-fired at the mourners of Sebastiao Gomes’ funeral. The massacre was caught on tape and prompted international outrage. Tourists can pass by the cemetery but there is no monument erected in memory of the victims.
The Xanana Gusmão Reading Room is sort of a library-museum where one can find out more about East Timor’s history. There are video viewing times which feature the Santa Cruz Cemetery massacre. The place has become a cultural center as well, and displays a lot of photos and information about former President Xanana Gusmão. When you’re tired of museums that display horrific and grim history, head on tot Arte Moris. The place celebrates the works of famous Timorese artists and stay-in art students. The pieces are contemporary and mostly bear a whimsical concept.
A walk along Dili’s Waterfront will take one back to the Portuguese era where people lazily pass hours by playing cards in the cool shade of the banyan trees. Photographers can capture the locals in their afternoon stroll with the backdrop of crumbly and fading Portuguese structures in the esplanade. Walk on to the main wharf to see the Motael Church, one of the oldest religious places in Dili. Although it’s not the original structure, the building that was rebuilt in 1955 closely resembles the old Portuguese-style church. The catholic monument played a great role during the nation’s struggle for independence.