June 1, 2009 at 4:12 pm
We had an impressive list of historical sites to hit up during our visit to the famed colonial city of Malacca. Thankfully, Malacca’s old city square is much as it was hundreds of years ago, with most of its attractions within spitting distance of each other. Our feet were happy when we informed them of how little traveling we’d need to do that day.
Malacca was colonized by European powers no less than three times between its founding in the fifteenth century and Malaysian Independence: by the Portugese, Dutch and British. Unlike much of Malaysia, the architectural remnants of those colonial periods are still prominent in Malacca, making it the ideal place to literally walk though Malaysia’s history.
Sitting in the picturesque Town Square, the famous Christ Church is the oldest Protestant church in Malaysia, and still offers daily services. There were plenty of other older buildings in the colonial style in the square, along with a replica of the water wheels used to fuel Malacca’s booming port trade in centuries past…although I don’t know how the vendors selling toy ray guns and cowboy hats to children fit into Malaysia’s intricate historical framework. I’m sure it’s a rich tapestry.
Just up the hill from the square sit the ruins of St. Paul’s Church, famed for being the home of St. Francis Xavier. Dozens of intricate tombstones of colonists from centuries past were set up along the inner walls of the church, giving us a vivid illustration of just how far back Malaccan history stretches.
The nearby ruins of the Portugese A Famosa fort, built in 1511, were a similar reminder of Malacca’s strategic importance as a port during the initial explosion of Asian colonization.
Malacca isn’t just all about history, though, it’s also about some fantastic regional fusion cuisine, as we were about to find out…