Situated at the southwestern coast of Malaysia, Melaka (also spelled Malacca) is a historic city that was established in the early 13th century by the legendary Parameswara, the last king of Singapura and the first Sultan of Malacca.
Over the centuries, the Sultanate has fallen under the colonial rule of the Portuguese (1511 to 1641), the Dutch (1641 to 1824), and the British Empire (1824 to 1948). This left behind a state and city marked by a diverse range of cultural influences from European colonizers, Chinese traders, and Malay rulers that have called the coastal region home.
Today, the city of Melaka is the capital of the Malaysian state that shares its name. And in 2008, it was officially declared a UNESCO World Heritage site, highlighting its cultural and historical importance. Indeed, visitors are welcome to learn more about its rich history through an affordable Melaka tour package that includes visits to historic buildings and cultural spots.
Discover why Melaka should be on your next holiday itinerary with these popular and historic attractions.
Located within the city’s Chinatown, Jonker Street used to be famous for its many antique shops. But these days, it serves as the area’s main commercial hub where you can find shopping places and street food stalls—especially if you come during the weekend night market. But even if you go on a weekday, there’s still a lot to see and do at Jonker. You can visit the old antique shops that are still in business, buy your souvenirs from local handicraft stores, or simply chill out at the bars in the area.
The Stadthuys in the city’s Red Square (also known as Dutch Square) is said to be one of the oldest examples of Dutch architecture in Asia. It was built in 1650 and was the official home of the Dutch governor during the colonial period. Also known for its bright red exterior, it now houses the city’s History Museum and Ethnography Museum, with collections that include artefacts from Melaka’s 400-year history. This makes it a great place to experience a slice of the city’s rich history.
Across the street from the Stadthuys, you’ll find the Christ Church with its similarly painted exterior. Built in the mid-16th century, it is recognized as the oldest-functioning protestant church in Malaysia. Visitors to Melaka flock to this iconic church to appreciate architecture and take pictures. Indeed, you can’t miss its bright red façade, along with the beautiful garden and the colourfully decorated bicycle rickshaws or trishaws out front.
A’Famosa was originally part of a large stronghold built in 1511 that used to cover the hillside of St. Paul Hill. Over the centuries, the fort had undergone many changes until the British almost destroyed the entire fort. Fortunately, the British statesman Sir Stamford Raffles helped convince the leadership to spare the gate of Porta de Santiago. That’s why the beautiful entrance stands to this day as a reminder of this once glorious and massive fort. Known today simply as A’Famosa, which translates to “The Famous,” it stands as one of the city’s most historic structures. This is why it draws visitors in droves, living up to its current name.
St. Paul’s Church
Originally called Nossa Senhora da Annunciada, St. Paul’s Church was built in 1521 by a Portuguese nobleman. It has a long history that includes serving as the temporary resting place of St. Francis Xavier, a pioneer Catholic missionary from Spain. But in the 1700s, the church fell into disrepair after being deconsecrated for use as a fortification. Today, with its roof long gone, it has become a tranquil and scenic place for visitors to come and appreciate the city’s diverse religious history.
Melaka Sultanate Palace
In an effort to preserve and proudly display Melaka culture that existed before the colonial eras, a replica of Sultan Mansur Shah’s palace was built in 1985. The sultan ruled the city from 1456 to 1477 but his palace was burned to the ground because of a lightning strike. The replica that stands today was built with the help of accounts from ancient Malay Annals or Sejarah Melayo, historical texts about the Malaccan sultanate during the 14th and 15th centuries.
The palace replica is a 3-story museum that houses over a thousand artefacts, photographs, and prints relating to the Melaka Malay Sultanate history and heritage. Visitors can look forward to viewing collections of ancient weaponry, jewellery, costumes, and brassware. In addition, dioramas depicting legends and epic clashes between famous warriors are also available for viewing.
Melaka is a fascinating city, especially for visitors who love history and culture. Indeed, this city offers several historical attractions that provide glimpses of its rich past. Take the time to get to know them and you’ll find yourself having a unique vacation experience.