Melaka – A city with few relics of a bygone era

Added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 2008, Melaka is one of the two cultural heritage sites in Malaysia. Melaka, as a trading port city in early days, and a powerful one at that, had enough wealth to capture the eye of the Portuguese (in 1509), the Dutch (in 1641), and the British (in 1824), who would leave the city with some enchanting buildings for later generations to gush about.

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It is said when the Portuguese first reached Melaka in 1509, they were warmly greeted by the local sultan. However, relations soon soured and the Portuguese invaded the city in 1511 driving the sultan and his forces away.

Key landmarks

Christ Church Melaka and Stadthuys located in the heart of Melaka are two of the oldest and defining structures that have made it to the front of many postcards. Christ Church Melaka is still a functioning Protestant church and there are memorial tablets placed inside, which will give you a better insight to the life spent in Melaka that sometimes ended tragically. The neighbouring Stadthuys, known to be governor’s office/ residence and town hall from the dutch era can also be visited for a nominal fee.

Not far from the city center you will come upon a flight of stairs that will lead up the hill to St. Paul’s Church built-in 1521 by the Portuguese. The marble statue at the summit that you find gazing over the city and turquoise blue water is of St. Francis Xavier, who was a regular visitor of the church. In 1590 the Dutch built their own church at the base of the hill and under the British rule the long-deserted church was used as a magazine for gunpowder.

At the foot of the hill stand the remains of Porta de Santiago fort built by the Portuguese in 1511. For me, this fort is nothing much to write home about. The miniature size of it left me feeling bamboozeled, as I was expecting something majestic and intact similar to Galle fort in Sri Lanka. 😦

Conclusion

Apart from the potential let down at Porta de Santiago, Melaka would steal your heart, especially if you are a history buff. As for me, I will perhaps revisit Melaka someday in future. But on the one fine day I do, I plan on riding one of the flashy trishaws found in town centre and strolling in Jonker Street which supposedly becomes radiant at night! 😀

How to get there: Travelling to Melaka from Kuala Lumpur by public transport could be a bit tricky. There are no trains running to Melaka. Buses go to Melaka, however the Melaka Sentral bus terminal is 4.5kms away from the city center, so plan ahead. 

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