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When doing my research about Malaysia for an upcoming trip I came across a city called Malacca known as Melaka to the locals. People’s accounts about their trip piqued my interest so a day tour was hatched to explore the city.
When the taxi that we hired for the day came to pick us up from the hotel, I was looking forward to what we will see. This historic city is 148 kilometers and about 2 hours drive away from Kuala Lumpur. What used to be a fishing village became an international port in the 1400s and served as a stopping point for ships because of its strategic location. The Portuguese conquered the city in 1511, but were replaced by the Dutch who in their efforts to capture the city defeated the Portuguese in 1641. The Dutch gave up this territory to the British in 1824. Malacca was also under the rule of Japan for 3 years during World War II. After the war the city became part of Federation of Malaya which eventually became Malaysia in 1963. Currently Malacca is listed in UNESCO as world heritage site.
The historical sites are clustered around one area easily accessible on foot. The taxi driver dropped us off in the vicinity called the Dutch Square (Known also as Red Square) which comprises the Victoria Fountain, Christ Church and The Stadhuys.
The Victoria fountain, right in the middle of the Square is the newest structure among the three, erected in 1904 by the People of Malacca in memory of Queen Victoria.
The Christ Church of Melaka stands prominently among the other red buildings because of the white cross marked on its façade. In December 12, 2003 the church marked its 250th anniversary celebration. I was wistful standing inside the church thinking that 263 years ago someone stood exactly where I was standing now.
The Stadhuys was built in 1650s by the Dutch occupants to house the Governor and also serve as an administrative center. Many believe this to be the oldest Dutch building in the Far East. Just in case you are wondering, the word stadhuy is a Dutch word meaning a municipal building or city hall.
It is interesting to note that the Stadhuys is a reproduction of the former town hall of the Frisian town of Hoorn in The Netherlands. That Frisian building has been replaced now, so the Stadhuys here in Melaka is an excellent representation for those interested to know what the Hoorn town hall looked like in the 15th to 18th centuries.
Watch out for more of historical Malacca.
Text & Photos by Alicia Davis