Malacca boasts many fine historical remains that will take you on a nostalgic journey that goes back to 500 years of a glorious and colourful past. Historically, Malacca was discovered in 1400 by an exiled prince named Parameswara from Sumatra, who sought sanctuary in a humble fishing village and decreed that a city be built where he stood.
He named it Malacca after the Melaka tree. Malacca rose to become a prosperous port-of-call between the East and the West, and eventually became an established empire. Gold, silk, tea, opium, tobacco, perfumes and countless other items from nearby countries and from as far away as Europe and South America were traded here.
The state fell into the hands of the Portuguese, followed by the Dutch in 1641 after a fierce battle. In 1795, the English took control of the empire to prevent it from falling to the French when the Netherlands was captured during the French Revolution. It was returned to the Dutch in 1818 under the Treaty of Vienna but was later exchanged by the British for Bencoleen, Sumatra. From 1826 onwards, it was ruled by the English East India Company, which also controlled Singapore and Penang under the Straits Settlement administration.
Malacca is about 147km away from Kuala Lumpur and 245km from Singapore, sandwiched between the states of Negeri Sembilan and Johor. An excellent road network to and from Kuala Lumpur and Singapore links it. Internally, it is serviced by a good network of roads leading to every corner of the state.
Proclamation of Independence Memorial
Built in 1912, the former clubhouse of Malacca Club now houses invaluable exhibits of the country’s struggle leading to Independence. Exhibits are in the form of relics, manuscripts, videotapes, films and slides.
Malacca’s Sultanate Palace
Based on the description and reference to Malay annals, the wooden structure houses the Cultural Museum of Malacca. Situated at the foot of St. Paul’s Hill, it is the only Malay palace from Malacca’s glorious past built with such detail and refinement.
Built in 1650 as the official residence of Dutch governors and their officers, the edifice is a fine example of Dutch architecture. Preserved in its original structure and form, it now houses the Historic and Ethnography Museums.
The hallmark of Malacca and perhaps the most well known historical architecture next to the Stadthuys, it was built by the Portuguese in 1511 as a fortress. It sustained severe structural damage during the Dutch Invasion. The Dutch had set to destroy it but timely intervention by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1808 saved what remains of it today.
Bukit Cina, or Chinese Hill, was the official settlement of the Chinese entourage that arrived with Princess Hang Li Poh. She was sent to Malacca by the Emperor to marry the Sultan to mark the advent of diplomatic relationships between Malacca and China. The entourage stayed on in this settlement until the Portuguese Occupation in 1511. The site is today an expansive Chinese cemetery with many of the tombs dating back to the Ming Dynasty.
Baba and Nyonya Heritage
The Straits Chinese or Baba and Nyonya are Chinese of noble descendants who have adopted much of the Malay culture into theirs. The public can view the heirlooms unique to this heritage at private museums run by the group in the city centre.
Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonker Street)
Jalan Hang Jebat, formerly known as Jonker Street, is known worldwide among antique collectors as one of the best places to hunt and bargain for antiques.
Light and Sound
The best way to learn about the history of Malacca is to watch Southeast Asia’s first light and sound show at Bandar Hilir, Padang Pahlawan. Significant events in Malacca’s history are re-enacted by means of lights, narrative, dialogue, music and sound effects that project real-life drama.
Auyin Hill Resort
Based on the philosophy of Feng Shui or geomancy, every element has been placed relative to the principle of celestial and terrestrial positioning accuracy to enhance its chi – power and prosperity.
A stupendous theme complex that enables visitors to view the traditional houses of the 13 states of Malaysia in a single place, the complex displays life-size authentic houses crafted by master builders.
A unique theme park conceived as the summary of prominent cultural elements of the countries that make up ASEAN, visitors would acquire a definitive sense of history and culture of the countries based on the features of the houses constructed to remarkable detail.
Standing exactly the way it has since 1753, the church is testimony to Dutch architectural ingenuity. Take note of the church’s handmade pews, ceiling beams constructed without joints, Brass Bible, a tombstone inscribed in Armenian and a depiction of The Last Supper in glazed tiles.
St Francis Xavier’s Church
Built in 1849 by Reverend Farve, a Frenchman, the Gothic-towered church is dedicated to St. Francis Xavier.
St Paul ’s Church
Built by a Portuguese captain by the name of Duarte Coelho, the chapel was turned by the Dutch into a burial ground for their noble dead and renamed as St. Paul’s Church from the Portuguese Our Lady of the Hill.
St Peter’s Church
The church is the only church in Malaysia with a life-size alabaster statue of The Dead Lord Before The Resurrection. Built by the Portuguese in 1710, its architectural style blends Oriental and Occidental influences.
Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
Cheng Hoon Teng is the oldest Chinese temple in the country. It was built in 1646 with materials shipped out of China. The fine workmanship is evident in the ornately decorated mythological figures, carvings and lacquer work inside the temple.
Kampung Hulu Mosque
Built in 1728 by Dato’ Shamsudin, it is the oldest mosque in Malaysia. Its unique architectural style is not found anywhere else in the country.
Sam Po Kong Temple
Dedicated to Admiral Cheng Ho, the temple was named after a fish that miraculously saved the admiral’s ship from sinking after it had been hit by a storm en route to Malacca from China. The fish mysteriously placed itself against a damaged hull, preventing it from taking in water.
Malaysian Youth Museum
The museum is dedicated to contributions made by the country’s youth in the fields of economy and social well-being.
A one of its kind in Malacca, the museum is within a life-sized replica of the Portuguese galleon “Flor De Lar Mar” which ran aground off the Malaccan coasts on its way to Portugal. The historical archives in the museum include exhibits of ships dating back to the beginning of the great age of European exploration and ‘seafaring’.
The farm is the largest in the country with more than 100 species of crocodiles, including the rare Albino and hunchbacked species. The farm has also been beautifully landscaped to provide an environment conducive to the reptiles.
A haven for holidaymakers seeking exclusive rights to sandy beaches, clear blue waters, the sun and seafront chalets on stilts, the island is an excellent resort for swimming, fishing, picnicking and snorkelling.
Located within the Portuguese Settlement, the square is the culmination of Portuguese culture in its full splendour and colours. Organised events during weekends will be quite the experience to bring home as pleasant memories.
The place is one of world’s most comprehensive butterfly and insect farms with well over 200 local species, including rare ones like the Raja Brooke and Birdwing butterflies. There is also a collection of more than 400 insect specimens.