Malacca, the Malaysian state with historical places bedecked in glory and colour!
It’s got history. An attitude of its own. And a legacy to boast of. That’s Malacca for you. Not many know that Malacca was one of Asia’s most well-known trading ports. After all, that’s where a lot of their history lives too. Over 200 years ago, no one would have thought that the city will end up doing so well for itself.
Today, Malacca is a patchwork of farmlands, deserted beaches and small family-friendly attractions. With Melaka river at the centre, it is filled with buildings painted with colourful murals. With so much history and culture to offer, here are a few sites you simply cannot miss!
10 Most Famous Historical Places in Malacca
- St. Paul’s Church
- Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum
- Porta De Santiago
- Dutch Square
- Maritime Museum
- Malacca Sultanate Palace
- The Stadthuys
- The Cheng Hoon Teng temple
- St. John’s Fort
- Syed Al Attas Mansion
St. Paul’s Church
St Paul’s Church is where the ruins are well kept, the breeze is welcoming and the view from the top makes the climb up the St. Paul’s hill worth it. Wander among the majestic forests and glorious remnants.
Steeped in history, this one is amongst the oldest historical monuments in Malacca. The church was constructed in 1521 before which, the building was just a chapel. By the end of the sixteenth century, they named the Church ‘Igreja de Madre de Deus’.
The Church came into existence when the Portuguese colonised Malacca in 1511. The idea was to create a fort overlooking the river. It was called A’ Famosa. Along with that came the bustling markets, streets, food stores and churches. This was the only structure left when the Dutch attacked the area. And there it is, standing with stories to tell.
Location: Jalan Kota, Bandar Hilir, 75000 Malacca
Keep in mind: It will be hard to climb up if you have a knee problem or any other illness. You may choose to avoid it.
How to get there: There are not many options. You should get a taxi to get there or ask for a local guide to help you with the directions. You can also contact the Department of National Heritage for more information.
Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum
Victorian lamps, Dutch townhouses, opulent interiors, hand-painted tiles and everything that takes you back in time— that’s Baba Nyonya Heritage museum for you. The beginning of the 16th century was a booming time for Malacca’s shores and this is when the city saw Chinese traders making their way into the territory. They married the Malay women and stayed here. Eventually, these traders became the face of the Malaccan economy. The Babas and the Nyonyas of Malaysia designed this privately owned museum to represent the cultural shift and the thriving lives of their people.
And that’s the story behind this museum.
The artwork, antique furniture, woodwork and the items that are displayed at the museum transport you to the bygone era. You can head to the Portuguese Square later once you’ve worked up an appetite.
Location: The museum is located at Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock and Heeren Street. It is parallel to Jonker Street. You can head to Zoo Malacca from here which is some 10 km and the Jonker Walk is only 0.22 km. In case feeling Hungry visit restoran anak nyonya which is very near to the museum.
Keep in mind: Head to the Gallery across the road for great local snacks.
How to get there: There are plenty of taxis from Zoo Malacca to the museum. The route is 20 minutes. You can walk from Menara Taming Sari and within 15 minutes you will be here.
Porta De Santiago
It’s one of the most historical sites in all of Malacca. Fortified with thick walls, this Portuguese fortress is something you cannot miss.
The tiny gate that is called A Famosa or Porta de Santiago, is a remnant of the history that time has not been able to wash off. The fort was handed over to the British by the Dutch in the early 19th century.
Taking its name from what means ‘The Famous’ in Portuguese, the fort was constructed in 1511. It was the time when Portuguese were looking at Malacca as an important part of its trade business. This lasted till 1641 when the Dutch got their hands on the A Famosa. The fort standing tall was actually saved by Stamford Raffles in 1810.
Location: Head to Jalan Kota where you will find the A Famosa located just next to the Stadthuys building.
Keep in mind: Entry is free!
How to get there: Get a taxi. Take guidance from locals.
A beautiful central fountain draws you to the place. The Dutch Square is a colourful trishaw pickup point. The place gets its character from the terracotta-red structures built by the Dutch in the 1660s. Chunky doors, Victorian marble, wrought iron hinges and more, the place takes you back in time.
Do not miss the night time here when the building lights up well. You will love the interesting mix of cultures and colours here.
Location: It is just 0.66 km from Jonker Street.
Keep in mind: Carry fully charged camera batteries because you’d like to click lots of pictures of the photogenic area.
How to get there: You can catch bus 17 from the domestic terminal of Melaka Sentral and get down at Dutch Square.
Maritime Museum of Malacca
This is one of those rare museums where you are expected to take off your shoes at the entrance. Picture a Portuguese ship that sank at Malacca’s coast, according to records. 34 meters in height and 8 meters in width, the museum is all about the maritime history of Malacca. It takes you back into the golden ages of Emporium of the East that Malacca once was.
You will be welcomed by paintings that show you how business was conducted in those ages. And it’s all the eras in one museum— the Dutch, British and Portuguese. The upper deck is where visuals of traders from Arab, China and India are shown, trading with each other at the Malacca port.
There are racks provided at the entrance for your shoes, you can also carry them in a plastic bag provided by the authorities. The deck of the ship is a well-polished floor, hence, the need to take your shoes off.
Every aspect of the ship has something interesting to share with you. There are thousands of artefacts and documents from the Golden Era that are presented here.
Ticket to the Maritime Museum will take you to the EX-KD Sri Terengganu Ship, Replica Of Flor De La Mar, Maritime Museum II and the Royal Malaysian Navy Museum
Location: This is right opposite the Medan Samudera.
Keep in mind: The museum starts at 9am and closes at 5.30 pm on all days. Except for Saturday & Sunday. The museum closes at 9 pm on the weekend.
How to reach there: It is advised that you take a taxi to the museum as public transport is limited in Malacca. If you are at Stadthuys, take a walk and enjoy the galleries, mosques, libraries and the local scenery on the way.
Malacca Sultanate Palace
Set at the foot of St. Paul’s Hill, Malacca Sultanate Palace is a flawless wooden replica of Sultan Mansur Shah’s palace built in the 15th century. As you enter the palace, you can spot the use of traditional construction techniques and materials.
Legend has it, that the palace is built without nails. Apparently, the 7-storied wonder stands on wooden pillars with a copper and zinc roof. Hard to believe, isn’t it?
Go and check it out for yourself! The palace is open for public view from 9 am to 6 pm every day. The admission fee may vary and is different for children and adults.
Location: As you walk from Porta de Santiago, you will cross a gravesite. Right at the foot of St. Paul’s Hill.
Keep in mind: Keep some time in your hands as it may take 1 hour to 1 hour 40 mins. Shoes are not allowed inside the palace.
How to get there: There are not many public transport options available. The palace is close to Porta de Santiago, lots of taxis are operating on the route.
The interesting thing about Stadthuys is the Dutch legacy that it boasts of. The red building called the Stadthuys was once the administrative centre of various governments but was soon turned into a history museum. You can find it easily just next to Christ Church. If you are on the Jonker Street, it is right opposite the street.
It was built between 1641 and 1660 on the ruins of a fort. As you walk into the massive red building, it will feel like you have walked into the era of the Dutch. Colonial architecture, louvred windows, the pictures, there’s so much history in there.
Location: Circle intersection of Jalan Quayside, Jalan Laksamana, and Jalan Chan Koon Cheng. Another important landmark is Queen Victoria’s Fountain, which is at walking distance from the place.
Keep in mind: The place is open from 9 am to 5 pm (Monday – Thursday) and from 9 am to 8:30 pm from Friday to Sunday.
How to reach there: You can hire a taxi or ask a local for directions. There are not many options in local transport here.
The Cheng Hoon Teng temple or “Temple of Green Cloud”
From the three doctrines in Chinese spirituality to the mesmerising architecture, this temple exudes history. It reminds you of the Chinese era in Malacca. It is one of the oldest yet functioning temples in Malaysia. Constructed in 1963, this a center for Buddhist worship. The intricately designed roof with relief images of birds, flowers and dragons is the first thing that catches your eye.
There are no restrictions like taking off your shoes. You can wear your shoes and go inside. You can also click pictures. It is open from 9 am to 7 pm.
Location: It is very close to the Harmony Street. It is also walking distance from the Kampung Kling Mosque. Another important landmark close to this temple is the Hindu temple of Sri Pogyatha Vinoyagar along Jalan Hang Lekiu.
Keep in mind: Try street food around the area. Entrance is free.
How to get there: Since it is close to Harmony street, it is a short distance via taxi from most locations.
St. John’s Fort
The fort was constructed in the 18th century by the Dutch. Once, a private chapel, the fort now stands on top of a hill in all its glory. Tropical sunsets, a history reflected by details like the cannons facing the inland instead of the sea, and a sense of the past make this an experience to treasure.
The interesting part is that there are a number of popular landmarks around this one. You can go to the heritage museum close by, or enjoy looking at the Malacca River Cruise from the top.
Location: It is located at the top of St. John’s Hill, some 3 km from the town. Just 0.85 km from Portuguese Square, you can also access St. Paul’s Hill from here.
Keep in mind: You can also savour on fresh coconuts sold by hawkers here.
How to reach here: It’s very close to the town. The total journey by taxi takes around 15 minutes. It’s 20-25 minutes walk away from town. Start your day by going to the fort early and exercise with a number of locals who can be seen working out here.
Syed Al Attas Mansion
The place pretty much looks like a ruin. Standing tall to this day, the original architecture of this residence dates back some 150 years. Constructed at the junction of Armenian Street and Acheh Street, the Syed Al-Attas mansion is full of history. The structure has European, Indian and Malay influences.
The structure was home to the powerful Achehnese merchant Syed Mohd Al-Attas and was made in the 1860s. Among the other Dutch era influences, it briefly talks about the Muslim age in the neighbourhood. The place is now called the Penang Islamic Museum.
Visiting hours are 9:30 am to 6:00 pm on any day. Tuesdays are closed.
Location: The heritage building is on the Armenian Street in George Town, Penang.
Keep in mind: Taking a stroll around the grounds is a great way to admire the mansion’s stark white walls and narrowly peaked roofs.
How to reach there: You can hop on Rapid Penang Bus number 10, 301, 302, 307, 401 and U502 to reach the Penang Islamic Museum. Get off Lebuh Carnavon and take a short walk past the Lebuh Acheh junction, you will see the mansion to the left.
From a street market with visitors pouring in great numbers to the way a Dutch Square takes you back in time, there is so much more to Melaka than its crowded streets. An absolute treat for history lovers, there are plenty of historical monuments in Malacca you can choose from!
Let us know how many you have visited in the comments
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