St. Pauls Church at the top of the hill, surrounded
by the fort. At the left: Malacca river.
Francis Valentijn (1726)
Malacca is about 150 kilometer south
of Kuala Lumpur. Across the North-South expressway you'll be within two hours in
Malacca. In the middle of the center are several hotel, who will offer you a
"promotion rate". IA room with breakfast and taxes will offered to you
for about RM 100. So why wouldn't we stay just one night in this beautiful,
historic city? Just one night, that's enough, there's so much to see in the rest
Malacca had a lot of conquerors in
the past century's: Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch en English. In the past the city was
strategic place at the border of the Strait of Malacca. It was a major port
along the spice-route, and its harbor bristled with the sails and masts of
Chinese junks and spice-loaded vessels from all over world. Also was traded: silk and porcelain from China; textiles from Gujarat and Coromandel
in India; camphor from Borneo; sandalwood from Timor; nutmeg, mace, and cloves from the
Moluccas, gold and pepper from Sumatra; and tin from western Malaysia.
The strong wind was
always blowing from the right position for the sailors and Malacca was a safe place to be, when
the sailors came
ashore. No wonder that they took this city for provision. Malacca became
important for all who wanted to rule the Strait of Malacca. And...that Strait
was so important for the spice-route. That's why Malacca had since 1400 so much
occupiers and could grow to a world wide trade center.
In 1511 Malacca was conquered by the
Portuguese. The Portuguese came to the East to capture the spice trade. Led by Alfonso de
Albuquerque. The Portuguese failed to maintain the glory and prosperity of
Malacca because of restrictive policies, competition and wars. The Portuguese ruled
Malacca from 1511 to 1641.
On the incline of the hill (St. Paul's Hill) they built a
"A Famosa". Later this was extended, so that the hill was surrounded by the the wall of the
fort. Inside these walls were two palaces, a castle, a meeting room for the Portuguese Council and there were five
churches. Unfortunately, the only thing that's left, is the "Porta de
Santiago", a gate without a wall that leaded to the fort.
After a siege of 7 months the Dutch of the VOC (the Dutch East India Company)
conquered the fort in 1641. At that time Malacca wasn't so rich and prosperous
anymore. After the conquest by the VOC the Dutch could start rebuilding the
fort. Walls were repaired, bastions got another name and they digged canal
around the fort with a drawing bridge. At the summit of its power Malacca had a garrison
of 550 Dutchmen and 50.000 inhabitants.
Despite all the new buildings the Dutch built, Malacca trade quickly declined
after their conquest. The Dutch had only two goals: safety of the spice-route
and elimination of the competitors.
In August of the year 1795 the English (East India Company) occupied Malacca.
Holland had in his region in Europe troubles with the French (Napoleon), who
were expending their borders. Holland didn't care for such an unimportant
outpost, which Malacca was in this period. It's a great pity for the history of
Malacca, that the English decided then to blow up the walls and gates.
Augustine Earle (1828)
The highlights of Malacca are in
short distance of each other. Just a little walk. They're concentrated around St
Paul's hill (see the old drawing at the top). That's where the fort was
situated. It's nearby the Malacca-river, which was so important in the old days.
What should you visit?
Everything is situated around St. Paul's Hill. The highlights are: the Stadthuys,
Christ Church. The color of these buildings are deeply red. That's
characteristic for the Dutch architecture in this period.
The Stadthuys is a fine example of Dutch architecture as it was built in 1650 as the official
residence of Dutch Governors of Malacca and their officers. It now houses the Historic Museum and
Ethnography Museum as it is being preserved in its original structure and form.
At the roundabout (with the windmill!) you can also find the Bell Tower and
Christ's Church. The church and the Bell Tower are a testimony to Dutch's architectural ingenuity as it stands exactly as it has
always been since 1753.
At the top of the hill is St. Paul's Church situated. A Portuguese Captain, by the name of Duarte Coelho built this chapel. The Dutch turned it
into a burial ground for their noble dead and renamed it "St. Paul's Church" from the
Portuguese's "Our Lady Of The Hill". So it's built by the Portuguese,
Dutch are buried in it, and named by the English!
At the feet of the hill is "Porta de
That was the gate for the fort.
Across the Malacca river are some shopping streets who had Dutch name, like:
Heerenstraat (Jalan Tun Cheng Lok) and Jonker Walk (Jalan Hang
Jebat. Jonker Walk is known worldwide among famous antique, but (I think) the
prices are as high as in your home country.
Cheng Hoon Teng Temple is one of the interesting places to visit. It is the
oldest Taoist temple in Southeast Asia.