Malacca / Melaka ~ Places to Visit from Kuala Lumpur
KL Visitors Guide


The small city-state of Melaka (Malacca) which began as a historic port city is one steeped in an intoxicating multicultural world of heritage architecture and filled with mystery, history and legends.

With centuries of colonisation by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British, Melaka is probably the best example of multicultural colonialism in existence.

Located about an hour and a half drive away from Kuala Lumpur on the Western Coast of Peninsular Malaysia, Melaka City, with its many houses of worship, museums, relics and landmarks gives us a window to its colourful history. Declared as a World Heritage City, Unesco and Everlasting Living Heritage, much of the remnants of Melaka's glorious past lie within the Town Square and waterfront area near the river.

Melaka or Malacca was founded around 1402 by a Palembang (Sumatran) prince of Hindu descent from the ancient Sri Vijaya Empire.

A popular account puts the Prince as out hunting one day and while resting under a tree, one of his dogs cornered a mouse-deer or 'pelandok'. The mouse-deer in its defence attacked the dog and even forced it into the river-water.

Parameswara was so taken up by the courage of the mouse-deer that he decided on the spot to found a city on the ground he was sitting on and named it 'Malacca' after the name of the tree under which he had taken shelter. Hence you will notice both the mouse-deer and the Melaka tree on the state's crest.

He assumed the title of Raja Iskandar when he embraced Islam and became the first ruler of this new kingdom which marked the early beginnings of the Melaka Sultanate. In time, Melaka gained prominence as a vibrant maritime trading centre and Melaka enjoyed a reputation as the foremost maritime trading centre in the region. Merchants came from as far as Arabia, China, India and Europe to conduct trade in silk, spices, gold, porcelain and other goods.

Coveted by several foreign powers, first of which were the Portuguese.
Led by Alfonso d’ Albuquerque the Potuguese conquered Melaka in 1511 and colonised it for 130 years.

The Portuguese were determined to control the East-West trade; so Malacca still retained its importance as a trade centre until 1641 when the Portuguese surrendered Malacca to the Dutch.

The Dutch were not interested in developing it as a trading centre, placing greater importance to Batavia (Jakarta) on Java as their main administrative centre. In the meantime, Malacca's trade also declined due to the silting of its port.

In 1795 Melaka (Malacca) was given to the British to prevent it from falling into the hands of the French, when the Netherlands was captured during the French Revolution. By the time British took over in 1824, the focus of the trade has shifted from Malacca to Singapore and Penang.

The Melaka sultanate was the basis for Malaysia as it appears today, and it is sometimes said that this city is where you’ll glimpse the soul of the nation. So when the country gained its independence, it was only fitting that the Declaration of Independence was proclaimed in Malacca, where it all actually began.

Melaka City
The spot where the town stands today was the centre of Malaccan history. It was the capital of the Malaccan Sultanate and the centre of the Malay world in the 15th and the 16th century before it fell to the Portuguese in 1511. Along with the colonization by the Portuguese, Dutch and the British, it has have shaped the character and architecture of the town and giving it a unique place in history.

A worthwhile place to visit, the city of Melaka is divided into the new and old sections. The older part of the city is fairly compact and has many historical and cultural attractions tucked into the nooks and crannies of its narrow streets.

The city centre is relatively small and is easily accessible by foot, trishaw or bicycle. The many houses of worship, museums, relics and landmarks gives us a window into its colourful past.

Most of the attractions are concentrated in its small city centre, where one can walk down its Jonker's Street, which is a row of shop houses of Peranakan architecture. A treasure trove for antique aficionados and first-time hunters with restaurants selling authentic Peranakan delicacies, as well as local delights are abundant.

The area is filled with hostels and affordable accommodations (complete with a downstairs-pub for the increasing number of Western tourists who go to Malacca). Or take a Melaka River cruise to get the feel of the multi-cultural and historical fabric of Melaka.

Melaka ~ Places to Visit

The Porta de Santiago & St. Pauls Church

Stadhuys & Christ Church

Portuguese Settlement & St. Peter's Church

Harmony & Jonker Street

Melaka River Cruise & Observation Tower

Best Way to Visit - Historical Melaka Tour

A Full day tour to take you back into the past 600 years as you visit Malacca city's historical landmarks and its legacy.



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