Situated in an important position on the busy sea route between India and China on the southwest coast of Malaysia, Melaka has been the subject of battles for centuries between the Portuguese, the British and the Dutch. As a result, this current Malaysian city is now a popular tourist destination full of architecture, culture, traditions and cuisine that reflect its rich heritage. Here are some of the main attractions in Melaka:
1. Church of Christ
The Church of Christ was established in the 18th century to replace the aging Portuguese church, and it remains one of the most iconic buildings of the Dutch colonial era in Melaka. Originally white, this building was painted red in the early 1900s, and this color became an indicator of most buildings of the Dutch era. The interior of the church is encrusted with various tombstones, written in Dutch, English, Portuguese and Armenian. Often wordy, these tombstones provide an interesting snapshot of life in colonial times.
2. Church of San Pablo
Originally built by a Portuguese captain in 1521 as a simple chapel, St Paul’s Church offers views of Melaka from the top of Bukit St Paul. Saint Francis Xavier, one of the founders of the Jesuit order, used the church as a base for his missionary trips to China and Japan. During one of these trips, Javier fell ill and died in China in 1552. His body was temporarily buried here for nine months before being transferred to Goa, where it is today. Visitors can see his ancient tomb inside the church, as well as a marble statue of the saint that overlooks the city.
3. Jonker Street
This street is the center of Melaka’s Chinatown. It began in Dutch colonial times as the home of many servants of the Dutch nobility. However, after the departure of the Dutch, it became the home of the nobles themselves. Many 17th century mansions are preserved there, as well as a large number of shops, restaurants and other services. When the large Chinese presence was installed, decorative accents such as a large Chinese-style arch were added. The street is blocked every Friday, Saturday and Sunday evening to become a night market reserved for pedestrians.
4. Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, dating from 1646, is the oldest in Malaysia. The three traditional Chinese doctrines are practiced there: Taoism, Confucianism and Buddhism. The temple is located on Harmony Street, home to many other mosques and temples, and greets visitors with a door adorned with Chinese lions. The temple consists of several prayer rooms, the main one dedicated to Kuan Yin, the goddess of mercy. Other smaller rooms pay homage to the gods of wealth, spread and prosperity, and house ancient tablets.
5. Baba and Nyonya House Museum
This museum, created from a mansion in the Millionaires’ Quarter, was created by Chan Kim Lay, a fourth generation inhabitant of this house, to celebrate the intricate and wonderful combination of Chinese and Malay culture, also known under the name of Baba Nyonya. The museum displays a number of handicrafts and handicrafts, such as pieces of wood, porcelain and furniture. Large painted tapestries hang on the walls in richly carved frames, and a story of Chinese and Western cultures blended into a Malay world is told through the rooms of this traditional house.
6. Palace of the Sultanate of Malacca
This is not the original, but a replica of the museum which was built in 1984 to show the history of the area. The building was constructed based on historical descriptions of the palace of Mansur Shah, the sultan who ruled Melaka from 1456 to 1477. The palace has a series of dioramas depicting what was probably a typical day inside the palace . Suppliers, guards, and vendors line the main hall, waiting to pay homage to the Sultan and make requests. A model of the building and more than 1,300 period objects make up the rest of this historical museum.
This old Dutch town hall is painted the same red as Christ Church and most of the other remaining Dutch colonial buildings in Melaka. It went from the offices of the Dutch governor and lieutenant governor under Dutch rule to a free English school under British rule. Today it houses the Museum of History and Ethnography, considered one of the main museums in the region. It includes traditional costumes and artifacts that show the different periods in Melakan’s history.
8. A famous
The remains of this Portuguese fortress are among the oldest remaining European structures in all of Asia. A Famosa (Porta de Santiago) was built on top of a hill by the sea in the early 16th century to prevent the newly conquered lands from reverting to a sultanate or being invaded by other European nations. The hope was to create another friendly Portuguese port along the Spice Route to facilitate the trade of merchant ships between Asia and Europe. Later it fell into the hands of the Dutch and was ceded to Great Britain to prevent it from being conquered by Napoleonic France. Britain feared its might if it was conquered, so it chose to destroy it rather than fortify it further. A small door has been preserved at the request of Sir Raffles, the founder of Singapore.
9. Masjid Selat
Masjid Selat (Strait of Malacca Mosque) was established in the early 20th century with a blend of architectural styles from the Middle East and Malaysia. Built on an artificial island in Malacca, it is designed to appear as floating when the water level is high. In traditional Moorish style, much of the exterior is white with bright color accents. In this case, the large arches of yellow and green stained glass are one of the main rooms that accentuate the mosque. The building is especially beautiful at night, when a series of colored lights make it one of the most beautiful spots in all of Melaka. The mosque is an active and popular place of worship, but it also allows public visits.
10. Menara tame Sari
This rotating tower is reminiscent of the Seattle Space Needle and serves much the same purpose. The Menara Taming, which is partly a walking tour and partly touristy, is a good way to get a glimpse of both historic Malacca and new and upcoming changes in the city. The rotating tower lasts seven minutes and can accommodate eighty people at a time. At the base of the tower there are other activities to try, such as pony rides, fairground rides, and electric car rentals. Packages are available to purchase a ticket for the tower in combination with other Melaka attractions.