IN the history of the Malay peninsula, Malacca is where it all began. Founded in the 14th century by Parameswara, an exiled prince from Sumatera, it thrived as a port-of-call for merchant ships from China, India, Arabia and Europe.
Visit this state and relive the glorious past of the Malacca Sultanate and see how the Portuguese, Dutch and English each left their mark. We have all heard of A' Famosa, the Stadthuys and Hang Li Poh's Well in history lessons but nothing beats the excitement and wonder of seeing these famous landmarks in person.
Places of interest
The A'Famosa is the most famous symbol of Malacca. It was built by the Portuguese in 1511 as a fortress but sustained severe structural damage during the Dutch invasion. The Dutch wanted to destroy it but timely intervention by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1808 saved what remains of the fort today.
Another significant landmark is the Stadthuys, built in 1650 as the official residence of Dutch governors and their officers. It now houses the History Museum and Ethnography Museum. On display are traditional bridal costumes and relics from Malacca's past.
The best way to see the sights and sounds of Malacca is to take a trishaw ride from the Stadthuys.
Hang Li Poh's Well was built in 1459 by the followers of the Chinese princess who married Sultan Mansur Shah.
It is believed that the well never dried up in the days of old. Today, it is a wishing well.
The Malacca Sultanate Palace houses the Cultural Museum. Situated at the foot of St Paul's Hill, it is the only palace from Malacca's glorious past that has been rebuilt in great detail.
Also, check out St Francis Xavier's Church and St Paul's Church. The former was built in 1849 and is dedicated to St Francis who was known as the “Apostle to the East” in the 16th century.
Antique collectors and bargain hunters will love Jonker Walk, which is full of little shops selling authentic artefacts and relics, some dating back 300 years.
To learn more about the customs and traditions of the Straits Chinese, or babas and nyonyas, visit the Baba and Nyonya Heritage Museum in Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock.
The oldest Chinese temple in the country, the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, was built in Malacca in 1646 with materials shipped from China. Fine workmanship is evident in the ornately decorated mythological figures, carvings and lacquer work inside the temple.
Instead of a conventional dome, the Kampung Kling Mosque has a three-tier roof rising like a pyramid. Its minaret is structured like a pagoda, reflecting East-West architectural influence.
The outstanding military exploits of Hang Tuah and his comrades – Hang Jebat, Hang Lekir, Hang Lekiu and Hang Kasturi – are part of Malacca's history. Check out the mausoleums of Hang Tuah, Hang Kasturi and Hang Jebat as well as Hang Tuah's Well, located in Kampung Duyong where he was born.
Besides these, places of interest include Kampung Chitty, Bukit China, Tranquerah Mosque and the Maritime Museum.
Other attractions are the butterfly farm, Air Keroh crocodile farm, Malacca Zoo, Jasin Museum, Mini Malaysia, Mini Asean, A' Famosa Water World and A' Famosa Animal World Safari.
Light and sound show
The Light and Sound Show at Dataran Pahlawan in Bandar Hilir is the first of its kind in South-East Asia. Significant events in Malacca's history are re-enacted by means of lights, narration, dialogue, music and sound effects to project real-life drama. The show starts at 8.30pm and is in English.
Hop over to Pulau Besar and Pulau Upeh for a break. Pulau Besar is ideal for swimming, fishing, snorkelling, camping and picnicking or just lazing around.
A boat service operates from Pengkalan Pernu to the island daily. For a faster mode of travel, catamarans are available from the town jetty.
Go turtle watching at Pulau Upeh. The Hawksbill turtle’s egg-laying season is from March to June but visitors can expect to see a few turtles every night throughout the year.
Experience the real kampung way of life at Seri Tanjung village. Twice winner of the National Beautiful Village competition, Seri Tanjung offers accommodation for visitors under the homestay concept.
The village is in Alor Gajah District, approximately 24km from Malacca. Visitors will stay with host families, the villagers of Seri Tanjung.
For enquiries, call 06-384 5853/ 06-384 7366 or fax 06-384 7819.
Cuti-cuti Malaysia offers tour packages to Malacca. Log onto www.cuti.com.myand choose from 10 packages. For more information, call 03-3343 2884 or fax 03-3344 8087.
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