Melaka: A Marvellous Malaysian Time Capsule

Sultan's Palace Replica, MelakaI've been to Melaka a number of times. This veritable time capsule is a fabulous day trip from Kuala Lumpur but there is so much to explore that it would also be a great getaway for a few days.

Stroll down the streets of Melaka and the remnants of its colorful past and the people who have left their cultural imprint will surround you. You'll hear tales of a Chinese princess, Admiral Cheng Ho, the Chinese explorer who stood at over 8 feet tall and arrived in a dragon boat, sultans, pirates, and Dutch and Portuguese explorers. Great Britain and Japan have both occupied the area and their influence can be clearly seen.

           Sultan's Palace Replica, Melaka, Malaysia

Melaka is located at the Straits of Malacca which connect the Pacific and Indian Oceans. Historically, it has been a point of intersection between East and West and it has been invaded by a succession of foreign powers due to its strategic location. Melaka, which was once spelled Malacca, was named by Parameswara, a Hindu Prince who fled Sumatra and discovered the area in 1400 during a hunt. He established the city and named it after the Malaka tree under which he had rested during the hunt.

Zheng He, Chinese ExplorerThere is a stone statue of Admiral Cheng Ho (also known as Zheng He) outside the Zheng He Cultural Relic Hall at the Malacca Historical Museum. It was established in 2005 to commemorate the 600 year anniversary of the Chinese explorer's arrival in Malacca. The collection includes coins from the Ming Dynasty and a seal presented to Parameswara by the Admiral.

Between 1405 and 1433, the Chinese explorer made seven voyages to Southeast Asia, India, Mecca, and, it is believed, Florence. His fleet consisted of 62 dragon boats (some were as long as 600 feet). During five of the seven voyages, the fleet anchored at the Port of Malacca. In exchange for silk, Ming vases and tableware, copper cooking vessels, and gold and silver tools, the warehouses with provisions for re-stocking the fleet were located in Malacca. The location of Admiral Cheng Ho's warehouses has been discovered near the river and many relics and valuable treasures have been uncovered. Within 50 years, Malacca grew into a thriving port for international commerce with a population of over 50,000.

Bukit Cina, a prominent 42 hectare Melaka landmark, was a gift that Sultan Manshur Shah gave to Hang Li Po, the Chinese princess from the Ming Dynasty who came to Malacca to marry him. She arrived with 500 attendants and hundreds of handmaidens. Today, you can still see the Hang Li Po Well that was built in 1459 for her personal use (by order of the Sultan) as well as the Chinese temple that was built for her. The cemetery for the attendants and handmaidens is at the base of the Bukit Cina.

St. Paul's Hill, MelakaAt the foot of St. Paul's Hill, is a full size replica of the Melaka Sultanate Palace, where the Sultan Manshur Shah and the princess lived from 1456 - 1477. It is filled with furniture, dishes, clothing and treasures that provide real insight into the history and culture of the area.

By the time the Portuguese attacked it in 1511, Melaka was a source of silk from China, textiles from India, spices from the Moluccas, gold from Borneo and tin from Malaya.

In Melaka, at the bottom of St. Paul's Hill, you can see the A Famosa ruins of the fortress built by the Portuguese. Ruins of St. Paul's Church, which was also built by the Portuguese, are at the top of St. Paul's Hill.

Beside the church is a statue of St. Francis Xavier erected in 1552 (the Saint had operated a college on the grounds of the church). His body was temporarily buried in Melaka in 1553.

Dutch Square & Queen Victoria FountainThe Dutch occupied Malacca during 2 periods 1641-1795 and 1818-1825. In the area known as Dutch Square stands Stadthuys, the old city hall, the historical administrative buildings from the Dutch area and Christ Church, the oldest Protestant Church in Malaysia. The old Dutch style clock tower wasn't built until 1886 in honor of the Dutch.

The Queen Victoria Fountain was built in 1901 to commemorate the queen's Diamond Jubilee. After World War II, Singapore became of more strategic significance to the British and, as a result, history has been perfectly preserved in Melaka.

Photo Credit: timlam18

Photo Credit: hathu-

Photo Credit: sarahstarkweather

Photo Credit: aaron.knox

For more meetings in Malaysia, read Kuala Lumpur: The Golden Triangle a 'Golden' Find for Event Planners. For more Melaka venues, go to the Cvent Supplier Network.

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