Monday, May 7, 2007

Melaka - The Historical City

Melaka (formerly known as Malacca), the third smallest state in Malaysia, is known for it's historical prominence and it's cultural appeal. Taking time off to have a holiday here will be an exciting experience.

Today, Melaka possesses a charm that is all it's own. Many tourist from all over the world come here to admire the historical architectures that are in abundance. In the 16th century, Melaka enjoyed a reputation as being the foremost maritime trading centre in the region. It also set the stage on which the Portuguese, Chinese, Dutch and the English, played their roles in shaping history.

It is the ideal place for those who are hunting for treasures of the past, if they look deep into it's quaint shops for curios and antiques. Melaka was founded by a fleeing prince from Sumatra, Parameswara, back in 1936. Parameswara named his sultanate after the 'Melaka' tree.

Here you will find a rich multi-cultural heritage of people, beginning from their unique customs and traditions, food, festivals, dances, buildings and lifestyles. There are many places of interest throughout the state.

Stadthuys - built in 1650 as the official residence of Dutch governors and it's officers. It was originally white but later given a striking salmon-red colour to match the nearby Christ Church.

St. John's Fort - located on St John's hill, originally used as a Portuguese chapel dedicated to St John the Baptist. The fort has an interesting feature; cannons face inland as during that time attacks on Melaka came mainly from the the hinterland instead of from the sea.

Portugese Square - located within the Portuguese settlement, which is 3km away from the city. Built in the late 1980's the square is inspired by the Portuguese Mercado. There are cultural shows every Saturday evening here.

Porta de Santiago - This is a prominent landmark, almost synonymous with Melaka, was a fortress built by the Portuguese admiral, Alfonso d' Albuquerque in 1511. It was badly damaged during the Dutch invasion in 1641. Timely intervention by Sir Stamford Raffles, a British official, in 1808 saved what remains of the A'Famosa today.

Hang Tuah's Mausoleum - This famous Malay warrior served as the admiral of Melaka's naval forces and defended successfully countless attacks against Melaka. The outstanding military exploits of Hang Tuah and his 4 comrades, made him a legend in the history of Melaka.

Hang Li Po's Well - Built by the followers of Hang Li Po, the well was the only source of water during great droughts. The Dutch enclosed it with stout walls to reserve it for their exclusive use. Today, it enjoys a reputation as a wishing well.

Christ Church - Situated adjacent to the Stadthuys, this bright red structure is testimony to Dutch architectural ingenuity. Interesting features include the church's handmade pews, ceiling beams (constructed without joints), brass bible, tombstone and 'The Last Supper' in glazed tiles.

St Paul's Church - St Francis Xavier was buried in the open grave here in 1553, before his body was transferred to Goa India. The church has a commanding view of Melaka.

The list goes on and on with interesting places here in Melaka, the above are just the tip of the iceberg. The state is also much sought after for medical education, with the setting up of the Melaka Manipal Medical College. Since it's inception in 1997, the college has produced many doctors in and out of the country.

So remember, if you are a treasure seeker, Melaka is a trove of activities and nature pursuits. Come for the fun, hail a trishaw for a ride along streets that wind through a colourful mishmash of architectural styles. This historical city is without a doubt, unbeatable!

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