Malacca City Attractions
Melaka River was once dubbed the ‘Venice of the East’ by European seafarers. These days, it is a popular tourist attraction primarily because of the 45-minute River Cruise that takes you all the way to Kampung Morten, past Malacca town and the settlements and bridges along the riverbank.
All in all, the Melaka River spans a distance of ten km. It is said to be the birthplace of Melaka because the Sumatran prince Parameswara founded Malacca sultanate here and built his palace on the east-bank of the river (at the foot of St. Paul’s Hill) in the 1400s.
River Of Bridges
The Melaka River winds its way from Dutch Square and goes past Tan Boon Seng Bridge. During the Portuguese invasion of Malacca, they seized this bridge and cut off communications between both sides of the river, effectively dividing Malacca into two and leading to Malacca’s defeat.
There are a few other bridges along the Melaka River worth mentioning. Besides the Tan boon Seng Bridge, there is the ‘Ghostbridge of Malacca’ (a pedestrian bridge which links Kampung Pantai to Kampung Jawa) and the Old Market Bridge (which links Kampung Hulu to Jalan Kee Ann and the old Central Market). It used to be a picturesque scene of fishing boats berthed along the riverbanks here but now it is mostly rows of Chinese restaurants. Fun fact: one of these restaurants was featured in the Hollywood blockbuster ‘Entrapment’ starring Sean Connery and Catherine Zeta Jones.
Chan Boon Cheng Bridge
Also on the Melaka River is the historical Chan Boon Cheng Bridge. It used to be a concrete structure until major renovations in1963 led to its current steel façade. In the early 20th century it linked the old quarters of Chinatown (then known as ‘Kampung Pantai’) on the west side of the riverbank to the new quarters of Chinatown (via Jalan Bunga Raya) on the east side.
The bridge has a gruesome past; during the Japanese occupation, Japanese soldiers placed the beheaded heads of their victims at the foot of the bridge as a not-so-gentle reminder for locals to toe the line.
After passing several more bridges, the Melaka River leads up to Kampung Morten: an old Malay settlement classified as a national heritage site. It is a typical Malay village but is widely-recognised as a living museum with well-preserved traditional Malay architecture and a conservative olden-day lifestyle. Along the Melaka River is also the ruins of Church of Rosario.
- Location: Malacca town