The city of Melaka is divided into the new and old sections. The older part of the city is fairly compact and has many historical and cultural attractions tucked into the nooks and crannies of its narrow streets.
Much of the remnants of Melaka’s glorious past lie within the Town Square and waterfront area near the river.
Just above the Town Square is St. Paul’s Hill (Bukit St. Paul) which is the site of the original Portuguese fort of A’Famosa and St. Paul’s Church.
There is a sign-posted heritage trail which visitors can follow to visit all the historical places in the old part of town. The new section of Melaka lies across the Melaka River and is mostly built on land reclaimed from the sea. It consists of modern shopping centres like the Mahkota Parade and is a bustling food and entertainment district.
Outside Melaka town, there are a some nice beaches, two excellent offshore islands with resorts and a golf course. The Air Keroh district is close to the North-South Expressway and has many recreational theme parks.
Places of Interest
Porta de Santiag. This prominent landmark almost synonymous with Melaka, was a fortress built by the Portuguese admiral, Alfonso d’ Albuquerque in 1511. It was badly damaged during the Dutch invasion in 1641. Timely intervention by Sir Stamford Raffles, a British official, in 1808 saved what remains of the A’Famosa today.
Another major landmark in the state, the Stadthuys was built in 1650 as the official residence of Dutch governors and their officers. Originally white, it was given a striking salmon-red colour to match the nearby Christ Church.
Christ Church Situated adjacent to the Stadthuys, this bright red structure is testimony to Dutch architectural ingenuity. Interesting features include the church’s handmade pews, ceiling beams (constructed without joints), brass bible, tombstone and ‘The Last Supper’ in glazed tiles.
St. Paul’s Church St. Francis Xavier was buried in the open grave here in 1553 before his body was transferred to Goa in India. The church has a commanding view of Melaka.
St. John’s Fort The fort is located on St. John’s Hill and was originally a private Portuguese chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The fort has an interesting feature; cannons face inland as during that time attacks on Melaka came mainly from the hinterland instead of from the sea.