Malacca is located on the southwest coast of the Malaysia peninsula and gave the famous sea route its name. It’s a small state, only 658 square kilometers, but rich in history due to its strategic location. It was founded in the 14th century by the escaped Hindu prince Parameswara, who made it an important and flourishing trading port, which in the course of its history traded with almost every continent on earth.
In 1511 the Portuguese came, occupied the city and the surrounding area and stayed for 130 years, after which the Dutch buttoned Malacca from them in 1641. They in turn finally lost it to the British, who kept it from 1824 to 1957. Only independence then drove them away.
Malacca experienced the Japanese occupation between 1942 and 1945. After the Second World War, strong anti-colonialist movements spread across the peninsula, and the awakening national consciousness forced the British to give in. The result was the proclamation of independence by the unforgettable Tunku Abdul Rahman, who then also became the first Prime Minister of Malaysia. This proclamation took place in Malacca on February 20, 1956, a historic hour in the right historical place.
The population of Malacca is a more than fascinating mixture of many races: Malay of course, then Chinese, Indians, the so-called Straits-born Chinese, who no longer speak Chinese. The descendants of Portuguese live here, they still speak the old Christao, as the old Portuguese is called. Eurasians, Arabs and Europeans complete this mix of people.
Malacca City itself is a polyglot little capital city with an interesting mixture of many architectural styles and directions based on what all of its former rulers left behind. The city’s sights are located in such a way that they can all be comfortably reached on foot; if you get tired, you can rent a trishaw for around RM 25 for just under half a day and let yourself be driven comfortably from spot to spot, but not without negotiating the price first.
Malacca Tourist Attractions
Hang Li Po’s source
Hang Li Po was a Chinese princess who was married to the Sultan of Malacca in the 14th century. In her honor, her descendants set a spring that never dries up and that always gave water in times of great drought. The Dutch then built a solid wall around the spring in 1677, which still protects it today. In the meantime, however, it has turned into a wishing well, into which visitors throw coins so that their dreams can come true. In addition, one should always come back to Malacca if one sacrifices a coin for the well.
The Dutch Stadthuys
Today’s Malacca Museum was built by the Dutch between 1641 and 1660. It is certainly the oldest building ever built by the Dutch in Southeast Asia. With the salmon-red paintwork and the typical architecture of the Netherlands, it is a very prominent point in Malacca’s city center.
The Porta di Santiago
The massive fortress gate is all that remains of the great fortress “A Famosa”, from which the Portuguese ruled Malacca for 130 years. Construction began in the year of their landing in 1511. It was later captured by the Dutch and badly damaged. In 1670 they repaired it and provided it with the emblem of the East India Company “V.O.C.”, which can still be seen over the gate today.
The Fort St. John
The small Fort St. John was built by the Dutch at the end of the 18th century on a small hill, only three kilometers from the present city center. Originally there was a church here, built by the Portuguese in honor of St. John in the 16th century.
What is remarkable about this fortification is that all the cannon beds found point inland and not to the sea. Attacks from the hinterland were feared more than those from the sea.
The St. Paul’s Church
This church was built by a Portuguese captain named Duarte Coelho, later the Dutch took it over and dedicated it to Saint Paul. For a long time it served as a burial place for the noble Dutch who died here.
The Sultan’s Palace of Malacca
The family of the Sultans of Malacca died out for a long time, their palace was rebuilt according to old information and documents and now houses a very interesting cultural museum. It lies at the foot of the little St. Pauls hill and is probably the most interesting building in town.
St. Francis Xavier’s Church
The construction of this neo-Gothic church was initiated by French priest Favre. The church was consecrated in 1849 and named after St. Francis Xavier, who is also called the “Apostle of Asia” because he fanatically spread the Catholic faith throughout Asia in the 16th century.
The Christ Church
This Dutch-style church dates from 1753 and has the same red paintwork as the Stadthuys with which it forms an ensemble. The beautiful wooden church stalls are still original, so now over 200 years old. Some old grave slabs are also on the church floor and a collection of silver vessels can be seen here, all of which bear Dutch coats of arms.
Fifteen kilometers to the east of Malacca is the large rainforest area around Air Keroh, where there are a number of attractive things to see and do.
In detail these are:
The forest park
An extensive piece of jungle in which the visitor can experience nature up close. The paths are well marked, trees and other important things are well signposted.
The Malacca Zoo
It is also here in a 22 hectare area and is one of the best in Malaysia because of its interesting animal population. People here are particularly proud of the very rare Sumatran rhinos.
The Tranquerah Mosque
This mosque is unique because it has a pagoda as a tower instead of the minarets. It also has a pyramid-shaped roof and not the dome shape of the usual Moorish-inspired mosques in Malaysia.
The reptile park
In addition to the Malacca Zoo, there is also a larger vivarium with reptiles. More than 1000 snakes live here, the more than 32 species of Malaysia are completely represented.
This is an open-air museum for the whole family and for visitors from abroad. Here the most beautiful farmhouses of all thirteen states in Malaysia have been put together in a single village. The style, the decorations and the details are typical for the respective federal state. Folklore shows or traditional games are shown here on the weekends.
This is also a so-called “theme park”, which is unique in its kind, because it shows cultural elements of the way of life and the living environment in ASEAN, the association of Southeast Asian countries. The visitor does not only get an insight into the present of Malaysia; Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia, the Philippines and Brunei are also presented in an instructive way.
The butterfly farm
This model farm in Malacca has arguably one of the most extensive populations of living butterflies and insects. Far more than 200 native species can be seen here, including the rare Raja Brooke and the bird’s wing. Also more than 400 kinds of insects are sure to be attractive to zoologically savvy visitors.
The crocodile farm
More than 100 species of these reptiles live in a natural, species-appropriate environment in the extensive facility; a trip to the farm is a very interesting experience.
The Malacca fish world
This is a kind of open-air aquarium that offers an informative insight into the fish world and the underwater life of the tropics.
The Portuguese village
Only about three kilometers from downtown Malacca is the small suburb where the descendants of the Portuguese settled. Typical festivals take place on the Placa several times a year.
The Baba Nyonya Museum
Baba Nyonya is called the so-called “Straits-born” Chinese in Malaysia, who still follow the old customs, but usually speak better Malay than Chinese. The Baba Nyonya Museum on Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock is a former home of such a family. The house was declared a museum so that the culture and way of life of this group would not be forgotten.
The Babas connected and connected the two cultures of the Chinese and Malays in a fascinating way. This ethnic group originated a long time ago when the early Chinese settlers married Malay women. Little by little they developed a completely independent culture, which was called Baba Nyonya or Peranakan culture.
Guided tours daily between 10 a.m. and 12.30 p.m. and 10 a.m. and 4 p.m.
The sound & light show
Take a trip into the history of Malacca and visit the one-hour show on the Pahlawan sports field in Bandar Hilir, Malacca’s suburb. It takes place daily at 8.30 p.m. (in Malay) and 10.30 p.m. (in English).
Malacca has a boat dock and a small ferry port from where you can go on boat tours on the Malacca River.
Regular departure times at 10 a.m., 12 p.m., 2 p.m. and 4.30 p.m., the duration is 45 minutes.
Beaches and islands
At Tanjung Kling, Cape Kling, about 15 km outside of Malacca, there is an extensive natural beach.
At Tanjung Bidara, Cape Bidara, about 35 km from Malacca, there is also a wide, relatively unspoiled beach.
Pulau Besar, the small island of Besar, is only four kilometers off the coast. From the city of Malacca you can take the bus or taxi to the ferry in Umbai, from there boats run every hour to the island, where simple accommodation and a small beach hotel are available.