The Historic State Of Malacca

Do you know that Malacca is considered the birthplace of Malay civilization? Founded in the 15th century, Malacca (also known as Melaka) was the location of one of the earliest Malay sultanates. Because of its strategic location, Malacca was important port for the spice trade. Political and cultural life flourished in this trading centre under the auspices of the Malacca Sultanate. Although the sultanate was abolished when the Portuguese colonized the state in 1511 (followed by the Dutch in 1641), early Malay culture still flourishes.

Did you know how the state got its name? Records reveal that when the Sumatran prince Paramesvara could no longer tolerate subservience to Java, he fled to the island of Temasek (present day Singapore), where he set himself up as the last Rajah of Singapura. The Javanese subsequently forced him to flee north to Bertam, where he received a warmer welcome. Legend has it that Parameswara was resting under a tree near a river during a hunt, when one of his dogs cornered a mouse deer. Instead of fleeing, the deer pushed the dog into the river. Impressed by its courage and taking it as a good omen of the weak overcoming the powerful, he decided to found an empire on that very spot. He named it ‘Melaka’ after the tree he had been resting against on that fateful day.

Despite centuries of colonial rule and war, the enduring influence of Malacca on Malay culture remains. No visit to Malaysia is complete without at least a stopover in Malacca. And if you do make the trip, be sure to check out these sites.


Kampung Hulu Mosque
tym-malacca-1Built in 1728 during the Dutch Occupancy, the Kampung Hulu Mosque is the oldest mosque in the country. The mosque also features a unique architectural style that is a blend of Sumatran, Hindu, and Western influences. It features a minaret that resembles a pagoda.


Christ Church
tym-malacca-2Built in 1753 in Dutch architectural style, the building houses hand-crafted church benches, jointless ceiling skylights, a copper replica of the Bible, and a replica of ‘The Last Supper’.


Kota A Famosa
tym-malacca-3A Famosa (‘The Famous’ in Portuguese), was built when the Portuguese first occupied Malacca. First constructed in 1511, it’s among the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Asia. The Porta de Santiago, a small gate house, remains standing in its original form.


Cheng Hoon Teng temple
tym-malacca-4This Chinese temple, dedicated to the practice of the Three Doctrinal Systems of Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism, is the oldest functioning temple in Malaysia.The Cheng Hoon Teng temple was first constructed in 1645 with materials imported from China. The main hall was added in 1704 and rebuilt in 1801. One of the most eye-catching features of Cheng Hoon Teng temple is the seven-metre red flag-pole facing the left wing of the main prayer hall, which houses the remains of two of the three men who contributed to the construction of the temple. Across the road is a traditional opera theatre, which forms a part of the Cheng Hoon Teng temple complex.


St Paul’s Church
tym-malacca-5Built by the Portuguese in 1521, the chapel was originally called Our Lady of Grace or Our Lady of the Hill. When the Dutch defeated the Portuguese in 1641, the chapel was reconsecrated for the use of the Dutch Reform Church. The body of St. Francis Xavier was interred here temporarily before it was taken to Goa India. An open grave in the church still exists today marking the place of Xavier’s burial.


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Author: Song Lianyi

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