A Famosa, which means “The Famous” in Portuguese, is located in Melaka. The fortress, built in 1511, is one of the oldest surviving remains of European architecture in the Far East and South-East Asia.
But, it was reconstructed and altered by the Dutch into Porta de Santiago gate in 1670. This is a small “gatehouse” and it is the only part of the fortress that still remains today.
Why you should go
Melaka, with its rich history and culture, has always been a popular tourist destination in Malaysia. In fact, it was listed by Lonely Planet as one of the Top 10 must-see places in Asia last year.
The remains of this historical site is where you can get a glimpse into Malaysia’s colonial past, and what’s unique is that it has passed through the hands of three different colonists: the Portuguese, Dutch, and British.
What to do
Unless you’re on a guided tour or have a guide to take you through the history of the place, you might want to read up a bit more about the fortress, to fully appreciate the experience. Then, you can imagine the fortress in all its glory, and how it originally consisted of four towers and long ramparts (defense walls) when it was constructed by Portuguese general Afonso de Albuquerque. The Dutch refurbished the gate, inscribing the logo “ANNO 1670” on its arch, adding a bas-relief logo of the Dutch East India Company above it.
Later, the fortress was almost demolished during the time of the British in the 1800s, but saved by Sir Stamford Raffles.
Even if you’re not into history, it’s still fun to take a walk around this place. This is a great spot for taking photos or selfies. Besides the historic icon itself, there are cannons outside the structure that you can pose with. And there are many nooks and crannies with great natural lighting streaming in through gaps in the walls, for more wonderful pictures.
Don’t be surprised if you see a local artist inside. Yes, you can buy a drawing of the historic icons in Melaka (including the A Famosa) or even get your portrait drawn here.
Who will like it
This is a popular tourist spot for both local and international travellers, and it is also one of the most photographed landmarks in the city. So, it will probably appeal to photography buffs and those who love feeding their social media pages with nice pictures.
Some couples like to come here for their pre-wedding photography sessions, and it is also a good spot for model photoshoots.
If you’re into architecture, archaeology, or history, and love to look at old buildings and ruins, then you might also enjoy a trip here.
It’s easy to get to A Famosa/Porta de Santiago. If you’re driving, biking, or taking a taxi/Grab, the GPS coordinates are: 2.191820, 102.250366
Alternatively, you can try taking a trishaw and enjoy the sights along the way. It is fairly near the city and you might want to combine your trip to see other spots such as St Paul’s Hill/Church and Stadhuys.
Melaka is roughly two and a half hour’s drive from Kuala Lumpur. There are buses running between Kuala Lumpur and Melaka, from Terminal Bersepadu Selatan.
A Famosa Fortress
Address: Intersection of Jalan Parameswara and Jalan Kota,
Bandar Hilir, 75000 Melaka
Entrance is free