Listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the state of Malacca encapsulates the vibrant history of foreign power struggles within Malaysia, the marks of which remain scattered around Malacca City. With its colorful trishaws, robust culture and historical monuments which offers a momentary breakaway from the urban landscape surrounding it, it is no wonder that this charming city has enthralled the hearts of holiday-seekers.
Porta de Santiago (A’ Famosa)
Situated among other historical monuments is none other than the formerly-imposing Santiago Gate of the Portuguese fortress, A’ Famosa.
The story which precedes the construction of the fort is one of foreign conquest, where Portuguese general Afonso de Albuquerque, who, having ousted the sultan in 1511, ordered the building of A’ Famosa in anticipation of counter-attacks from the defeated Malay Sultanate. The fort had been a stronghold for the Portuguese colony and had stood witness to the takeover of Malacca by subsequent colonies before being reduced to ruins in the early 19th century.
When the Dutch-Johor alliance drove out the Portuguese colony, the fort had been taken over by the Dutch administration. If one observes the engravement over the stone arch of the gateway, two soldiers can be seen carrying a shield bearing the V.O.C (Dutch East India Company) coat of arms. In the late 18th century, the Dutch handed the fortress over to the British, who subsequently ordered for the A’ Famosa to be demolished. It was only by the saving grace of Sir Stamford Raffles and his timely intervention that what remained of the once-impenetrable fortress was saved from further destruction, and in the present day serve as a famous landmark in Malacca City.
The Dutch administration, which lasted 183 years in Malacca City, had certainly left their mark! Overlooking the Malacca River, the Dutch Square, also known as the Red Square, is easily recognized for its iconic red buildings, the colorful trishaws which offer tourists a ride around the area, and the ever-present tourist crowd. A visit to Malacca City warrants a tour around Dutch Square, which boast the following famous landmarks:
- Christ Church Melaka
It will be hard to miss the ornate marble fountain, which was erected in commemoration of Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee, as it stands proudly in the Dutch Square, especially when it is juxtaposed with the red, Dutch-era buildings surrounding it, one of them being the Christ Church Melaka, the oldest functioning Protestant (Anglican) church in Malaysia.
Following the Dutch conquest, existing churches in Malacca had been given a Dutch reform, including St Paul’s Church on the summit of St Paul’s Hill, which had functioned as the main parish for the Dutch community prior to the completion of what had been known then as the Bovenkerk. The Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824 saw the Bovenkerk transferred to the British East India Company, and the institution was then re-consecrated as Christ Church Melaka. Upon visiting the church, one will notice that the flooring had incorporated tombstones which bear Armenian and Portuguese inscriptions, some of which reflect the lives of foreigners in Dutch Malacca.
- The Stadthuys
Dominating the Red Square is none other than historical edifice, the Stadthuys, which had been originally white, as the Christ Church had been, but in 1911 (under the British administration) both Dutch buildings were painted over in red and had since retained their eye-catching color scheme.
With its white staircases and windows, the architecture boasts Dutch elements in its exterior design and provides a picturesque backdrop for photo-loving tourists. Towards the end of the building is the Tan Beng Swee clock tower, circa 1886, also painted the same iconic shade of red, which had been built in commemoration of the wealthy Chinese merchant, Tan Beng Swee.
A worthwhile (and culturally-informative!) visit to the Dutch Square would warrant a tour of the Stadthuys, which translates to ‘City Hall’ and had indeed been used as a town hall during the British administration, but the building dating back to 1650 had formerly been the residential office of Dutch governors. Now, the Stadthuys serves as a museum complex as it houses several museums including the Architecture Museum of Malaysia, the History & Ethnography Museum and the People’s Museum of Melaka (locally known as Muzium Rakyat).
Gastronomical Adventures in Malacca
A day well-spent would likely follow a stomach well-fed. Having worked up an appetite by touring Malacca City’s well-known landmarks, you may find it a relief to know that Malacca City is also famous for its local delicacies, some of which are heavily influenced by the Baba-Nyonya culture.
Sample the street food at the weekend night market which operates on Friday and Saturday evenings at Jonker Walk, Chinatown. While browsing through the local treats such as gula apong ice cream and satay, you may also do a bit of souvenir-shopping. Other local delicacies which may interest you during your stay in Malacca also include:
- Chicken Rice Balls
Here in Malacca, chicken rice is given an interesting twist where the rice, cooked in chicken stock, retains its fragrance as it is balled up. The rice balls are firm and do not easily crumble upon being picked up by dining utensils. Hoe Kee Chicken Rice Ball, situated at Hang Jebat Road, serves this favourite classic along with tender, mouthwatering Hainanese chicken.
- Peranakan Flavour
If you have a sweet tooth and are on the hunt for local desserts, then Straits Affair could be the perfect place for you! The Peranakan community, otherwise known as the Baba-Nyonya, pride themselves for their culinary skills and are known for their mouthwatering cuisines which are a mixture between Malay and Chinese cultures. Located at Tukang Besi Road, Straits Affair not only offers exceptional Peranakan food, but also serves Peranakan kuih which are made from a secret family recipe! Rest assured, the authentic kuih will leave you wanting more as you sample the famous ang koo kuih, ondeh-ondeh and other desserts.
- Dim Sum in the Morning
For a simple yet hearty breakfast, there is nothing quite as satisfying as being able to choose from a variety of dim sum. Feast upon the classic favourites such as siu mai (akin to meat dumplings), lor mar gai (chicken with glutinous rice) and the crunchy yam puff, accompanied with the tea of your choice. Head over to Low Yong Moh, a humble local joint situated at Tukang Emas Road, to experience an old-school style dim sum feast.
Let Us Bring You to Malacca!
If you are visiting from Singapore, you may choose to book a Malaysian taxi at the Ban San Street Terminal in Singapore. For more information on taxi services from Singapore to Malaysia, visit www.taxisingapore.com.
For a more flexible pick-up arrangement, book a private limousine with us by dropping us a call at +65 6535 3534 (Singapore) or +603 2630 8400 (Malaysia). A Singapore to Malacca transfer will come with a flat rate-charge beginning from S$305, and varies according to the vehicle chosen. An executive taxi, which may only pick-up passengers at the Ban San Street Taxi Stand, can also be booked for at a flat rate of S$260.
For all Singapore to Malaysia transfers, advance booking and payment will be required. You may also make an online booking with us here.