At the first glimpse of the Melaka/ Malacca town, part of the town is seemingly painted in red color. Actually, most of these red colored buildings are the result of the influences of the Portuguese occupation in the early days. In addition to that, China and British influences seem to blend into the Malacca town as well due to the rich cultural and historical heritage of Malacca in the early days. There are quite a few interesting places here in the Malacca Town, some of these interesting spots include the magnificent red colored buildings (Stadthuys, Dutch Square and Christ Church), A’ Famosa (Porta De Santiago) and as well as the Mahligai Restaurant.
Actually, the few buildings that are red in color are the most eye catching and attention demanding buildings. Three of these buildings are the Stadthuys, Dutch Square and Christ Church.
If you would like to explore the town, there are several alternatives that you can choose from. First, you can opt to walk where you can have more time and freedom in deciding where to go and how long to spend in each place. Second, you can hop on to the unique “man-power” transportation – the trishaw where the “driver” will paddle around the town and you can sight-seeing in a more comfortable way.
As walking around the town, you will see a lot of well-preserved typical Chinese shop-houses along the street. Most of the shop-houses still retain the wooden window and doors; and the old architecture until today. By looking at these buildings, you will feel like going back to Shanghai in the 80’s where shop names that made up of Chinese characters are all around the street. Besides that, there will be stalls selling mouth-watering traditional sweet delicacies along the corridors of shops.
PLACES OF INTEREST IN MELAKA
Stadthuys, Christ Church, Dutch Square
Firstly, for the Stadthuys, it was originally built as Dutch Colonial offices. In this building, various traces of Dutch masonry and carpentry can be found on all of the doors, the walls, the windows and the wooden ceiling which is carved with floral pictures. Nowadays, the Stadthuys is obviously not used as a colonial office anymore, therefore, the purpose of this building now is to act as a historical building housing the Ethnography Museum where European and Chinese Antiques are being display to the public.
Aside from the Stadthuys is the Christ Church which is also red in color due to the reason where it was constructed with red bricks imported from Holland in the early days. The original purpose of this church is to announce the hour of the act of worship in the early days. Remember to take a glance inside the Christ Church as the pews inside the church are handmade and in addition tot that, this church is actually supported by huge overhead beams stretching all the way up to the roof.
The Stadthuys is actually situated at the inside of the Dutch Square. The Dutch Square and the Stadthuys can be said as identical as both of these architectures are the result of the Dutch architectural skills and moreover, both of these buildings are red in color which in a sense makes them unique and easy to identify. Aside from the Stadthuys, the Queen Victoria’s fountain is also located at the proximity of the Dutch Square where the Queen Victoria’s fountain was built in 1901 to commemorate the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.
A’ Famosa (Porta De Santiago)
In Malacca, the A’ Famosa (Porta De Santiago) was once a great fortress which serves as a stronghold protecting Malacca from any foreign invasions. In 1808, when the British decided to demolish this fortress, crowbars and spades were proven to be ineffective as this fortress was so strongly built that gunpowder had to be used in order to level this fortress. Sometime later, thanks to the effort of Stamford Raffles trying to preserve the fortress, the tourist can at least still look at what is left in this once great fortress.
Melaka River – The Venice of the East
The Melaka River or Sungai Malacca can be seen as the beginning of Malacca history, when it was called ‘Venice of the East’ by the Europeans who traveled to it. Its historical importance also lies in the fact that, during the 15th century, the Prince Parameswara of Sumatra created his Sultanate at the entrance to this river. It was on the east bank, at the bottom of Malaccan Hill (now known as St. Paul’s Hill), where he placed his palace. On its route to the sea, the Melaka River travels pass the town of Malacca; many old villages, along with present day buildings, line its banks. It is of no surprise that for these reasons the river passage was an important route for major trade and commerce.
Saint Paul’s Church
Take a path up the hill and it will lead you to this church. It was originally built in 1521, by the Portuguese. It became a fortress in 1567, until 1596. After the Dutch siege it became St Paul’s, before it was known as Nossa Senhora da Annunciada (Our Lady of Annunciation). It has been used as a burial ground for the Dutch. You can still see the tombstones, along the walls of ruins of the church.
Legends have it that Hang Liu was a Chinese princess from the Ming dynasty who was sent to Malacca to wed Sultan Mansor Shah in the 15th century when the Malacca Sultanate was at its zenith. She had 500 followers who were all settled on Bukit China, which means Chinese Hill, and this well, at the foot of the hill, was where they got their water.
For those who are interested in the Baba and Nyonya heritage, then the Jonker Street or also known as the Jalan Hang Jebat is surely the place to visit. In the early days during the Dutch colonial period, the Jonker Street is actually known as the rich man’s street. Nowadays, the Jonker Street is filled with fellow antique hunters and collectors from all around the world as Jonker Street itself is very popular with shops selling antiques. The rich heritage of the Baba and Nyonya can be clearly seen on the walls and pillars of the buildings as all of the walls and pillars of the buildings on this street are carefully engraved with various carvings.
Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum
For the less informed, some of them may wonder what exactly does Baba and Nyonya means in literal terms. Well, to share the truth, Baba (masculine) and Nyonya (feminine) are actually off springs of inter-racial marriages where generally speaking in a sense, it is the marriage between a Chinese male and a native non-Muslim female. The result of this marriage are the appearance of the culturally distinct community where this community (sometimes also known as Peranakan or Straits Chinese) has a unique variety of attires, language, customs and as well as architectures. In the Old Town, the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum is a place where all of these interesting cultures come together and displayed for the eye of the public.
Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is located at the Temple Street in the Old Town. As far as most of us are concerned, this temple is considerably one of the oldest and most respected Chinese temples here in Malaysia. This 300 years old temple is also seemingly known as The Temple of Bright Clouds when the name is read in Chinese. The construction of this temple caused a rather small commotion as the materials and the craftsmen were specially brought in from China. In this temple, the main worshiped god is the Kuan Yin, or better known as the Goddess of Mercy.
Although the name of this place might sound like a mountain for relaxation, it actually serves as that purpose, however, it is not for the living but it is for those who passed away in the early days. Yes, Bukit Cina is nothing less than a monastery. However, the reason which makes Bukit Cina interesting is because Bukit Cina is the resting place for people of a different culture in the early days such as the Imperial Ming subjects, colonial heads and as well as Malay chieftains. Unfortunately, the 1581 Franciscan Monastery has been degenerated and what is left today is just a pile of rubble with a few unmarked flat stones.
ACTIVITIES IN MELAKA
The City View Tower Of Melaka
Taming Sari Revolving Tower. Jalan Merdeka. The 110 m-tower seats 66 people at a time, taking them on a 7-min ride for a view of Malacca. The ascent takes 1 min, you have 5 min on the top and 1 min for the descent. Offers breathtaking 360-degree views of the historic city and the coastline. Do it after taking a stroll of the town, and it will give you a whole new perspective of Malacca. Admission fees for MyKad holders: RM10 for adults, RM5 for children below 12 years old, and RM7 for senior citizens above 55 years old. Admission fees for visitors without MyKad: RM20 for adults, RM10 for children below 12 years old, and RM17 for senior citizens above 55 years old. Operates every 30 min on the hour and half-hour, 10AM-11PM daily.
Panorama Melaka Bus
Panorama Melaka bus will surely bring a whole new experience to tourists. These imported ever popular London double-decker red buses will show you Melaka City London style. Sit on the open air upper deck, feel the city air and watch Melaka lights in the night (no commentary, however). You can hop on and off at any of the stops. RM 5 per day. Service starts at 7AM.
Melaka River Cruise
Melaka River Cruise is a 45 min cruise along Melaka river where once it was a main trade area of Melaka during its Golden era. It takes passengers from the jetty beside the Maritime Museum to just beyond Kampung Morten and then back. Night cruise is more interesting as we can see lights lit on the riverbank’s buildings, water fountain show and bridges. You will pass through many boardwalk cafes along the way. Wave “hi” as you cruise along happily. The Honky Tonk Cafe will be located along these river bank. Tickets: Adult RM10, Child RM5. Hourly cruise 10AM-11PM daily.
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