Malacca Cultural Enclaves

Malacca Cultural Enclaves

The diverse cultures that exist in Malacca, each unique on its own, come together to form a harmony.

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The many cultural enclaves in Malacca were originally formed by the traders who came to the city from all over the world. These enclaves are spread throughout the city, little worlds with their own traditions and customs. The most famous of these are the Peranakan Chinese, descendants of the Chinese traders from China who intermarried with the local womenfolk during the 15th and 16th century. As they were successful businessmen and traders, their shops and residences dominated most of the city. Today, there are several sites in town dedicated to Peranakan Chinese, including the Peranakan Museum, showcasing the vibrant aspects of the Peranakan culture. The opulent lifestyle of the Peranakans can be seen from the antiques on display in shops located along what was once known as the Millionaire's Row. This was where the wealthy Peranakan Chinese used to live, and the street was lined with beautiful mansions filled with elaborate antiques and decorations. The many restaurants that offer Peranakan cuisine in Malacca offer visitors an intimate insight into this intricate society.

The Portuguese who came to Malacca grew into a fishing community living along the coastal region of Malacca. The fishing community is now a permanent tourist fixture known as the Portuguese settlement. Located at Ujong Pasir, this community reflects their simple lifestyle steeped in religious beliefs and a profound understanding of the simplicity of life. Visitors to the settlement can learn more about these wonderful people by just spending a day at the village. A museum located within the settlement provides an insight into their history and background. Their proud traditions and heritage can be experienced first hand during the celebration that commemorate their patron saints' festivals. These festivals, Festa Senjuang and Festa San Pedro, are held annually and have become a major highlight for the city.

Other communities also have their place in Malacca. The Peranakan Indians, descendants of Tamil traders who intermarried with local women, are a small but vibrant community situated in Kampung Tujuh located at the edge of town. The Chitty community is a showcase of how people of long ago adapted to the local culture and customs in a foreign land. In addition, there is also a quaint Malay village called Kampung Morten, which is regarded by many today as a living museum. This village, which was named after Frederich Morten, a British Land Commissioner in the 1920s, has remained relatively unchanged since its founding and has managed to retain its own unique identity of Malay customs and traditions that is evident in the daily life of the villagers.

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