As a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Malacca is home to many eye-catching historical sights - as well as a good range of attractive modern establishments. This compact city is easy to get around on foot or trishaw to explore the many places that make it unique. Visitors can also learn about the the area's long and rich past which has shaped Malacca into the unofficial historic capital of Malaysia.
The most prominent contribution that Malacca has lent to the Malaysian cultural landscape is the Baba-Nyonya culture. Possessing an entirely new blend of customs, traditions, food and lifestyle, the Nyonya are especially prominent throughout Malacca. Although the city is a mix of old and new with historical buildings standing side by side with ultra modern shopping centres, it retains a seamless blend of cultures. We have compiled some of the best historical attractions to visit in Malacca City, all beautifully preserved for visitors worldwide to marvel at.
A’Famosa is more than just quick photo opportunity for tourists. Built in 1511, the settlement used to sprawl across a whole hillside but now only a lone gate (Porta de Santiago) remains. Originally constructed by Alfonso de Albuquerque (who led the Portuguese invasion on the Malacca Sultanate), the remains of the fort is now a crumbling whitewashed gatehouse that can be found down the hill from St. Paul’s Church.
When work was undertaken on the Menara Taming Sari revolving tower in 2006, another part of the A’Famosa was discovered. As a result, the revolving tower was relocated further inland and A’Famosa’s newly-discovered fortress walls were reconstructed. A’Famosa is set beside the Melaka Sultanate Palace on Jalan Kota and stands as one of the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Asia. Read More...
- Location: Jalan Kota, Malacca
Christ Church was built by the Dutch when they took possession of Malacca from the Portuguese and today, it stands as one of Malacca’s most defining structures. Situated along Jalan Gereja (also known as Church Street), it is an instantly recognisable brick-red building with a huge white cross at the top. The interior of the cathedral has 200 year-old handmade pews, decorative fanlights and plaques that honour Dutch soldiers and locals.
Entrance into the basilica is free; it is not a big building and the interior is dark yet cosy, with dark polished wooden pews that face the altar and large timber crucifixes that hang on the walls. Meanwhile, outside the church is a beautiful collection of potted plants and a colourful group of trishaws lined up for tourists. A short walking distance away from Jonker Street, Christ Church Melaka is one of the most popular sightseeing attractions in the Stadthuys area. Read More...
- Location: Jalan Kota, Malacca
Dutch Square Malacca is the most picturesque attraction located along Jalan Kota. It is also a colourful trishaw pickup point, easily distinguished by a group of bright, terracotta-red colonial Dutch buildings that were built between 1660 and 1700, as well as louvered windows and chunky doors with wrought iron hinges. A central fountain dominates the area: it is an ornate Victorian marble addition, erected in 1904 to commemorate Queen Victoria’s Diamond Jubilee.
Also within Dutch Square is the Tang Beng Swee Clock Tower. Even though it looks distinctly Dutch, it was actually built by a wealthy Straits Chinese family in 1886 in honour of Tan Beng Swee, a rich Chinese merchant. A short walk down the lane to the left of Christ Church in Dutch Square leads to the overgrown remains of the Dutch Graveyard. There is also a tall column in the centre of the graveyard which is a memorial to fallen soldiers during the 1831 Naning War. Read More...
- Location: Malacca Town Centre
Melaka Menara Taming Sari (Taming Sari Tower) officially opened for business on the 18th of April 2008, and it is the first and only gyro tower in Malaysia so far. Measuring 110 metres in height, its revolving structure offers a 360-degree panoramic view (in seven minutes) of Malacca town and beyond.
Located in the popular district of Bandar Hilir on Jalan Merdeka, only three minutes’ walk from Mahkota Parade Shopping Complex and Dataran Pahlawan Megamall, the tower is named after the Taming Sari keris, a mythical weapon said to possess mystical powers belonging to the legendary Malay warrior, Hang Tuah. Even the structure’s design follows the shape of the keris, with the peak of the tower resembling the its hilt. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Daily, 10.00 - 22.00
- Address: Jalan Merdeka Banda Hilir, Malacca
- Tel: +606 288 1100
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.
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. All in all, the Melaka River spans a distance of ten kilometres. 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. Read More...
- Location: Malacca Town Centre
The ruins of St. Paul’s Church are at the summit of St. Paul's Hill. Built on the site of the last Malaccan sultan’s palace, it was constructed by Portuguese fidalgo (nobleman) captain, Duarte Coelho, in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving his life during a storm at sea.
Roofless and covered in ferns, it was originally called the Nossa Senhora da Annunciada (Our Lady of the Annunciation). Though it has been in ruins for more than 150 years, it is a beautiful, breezy sanctuary (reached after a steep flight of stairs) set near the remains of A’ Famosa fort. St. Paul’s Church offers breathtaking views of Malacca and there are buskers and souvenir stalls at the top of the hill; heading down on the other side leads to Porta de Santiago, the remains of the great A’ Famosa Fort. Read More...
- Address: Jalan Kota, Bukit St. Paul (St. Paul’s Hill)
The Melaka Sultanate Palace is a wooden replica of Sultan Mansur Shah’s 15th-century palace. Set at the base of St. Paul’s Hill it was painstakingly constructed in 1985 using traditional construction techniques and materials, based on accounts in the 16th century, Sejarah Melayu (Malay Annals) text. According to the annals, Sultan Mansur Shah’s seven-tiered palace was built entirely without nails and supported with carved, wooden pillars and featured a copper and zinc roof. Although it was the most elaborate royal palace ever constructed in the world in 1459, the structure was destroyed the year after the sultan ascended the throne when it was struck by lightning.
Today, the RM2.5 million complex is also known as the Muzium Kebudayaan (Cultural Museum). Opened to the public in 1986, inside the complex are approximately 1,350 artefacts, prints, photographs and drawings detailing the Malaccan Malay Sultanate’s history and cultural heritage. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Wednesday – Monday 09:00 – 17:30
- Address: Jalan Kota, St. Paul’s Hill
- Tel: +606 262 7464
Malacca Proclamation of Independence Memorial displays records and photographs of the early history of the Malay Sultanate. It's divided into several sections and houses an extensive timeline covering the country’s journey to independence and the development of modern Malaysia. The museum is set up right opposite Padang Pahlawan (also called Warrior’s Field), a large open area that forms the centre of the downtown area.
Set up in 1912 in an elegant Dutch colonial mansion that used to house the Malacca Club, it was the social centre of British colonial Malacca. Previous guests included novelist Somerset Maugham as well as an extensive selection of Malacca’s glitterati back in those days. The two golden onion domes flanking the top of the Proclamation of Independence Memorial’s portico beautifully embellish the already-stylish stark white stucco. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 09:00 – 17:30
- Address: Kompleks Pelancongan, Jalan Parameswara
- Tel: +606 284 1231
Masjid Tranquerah is one of the oldest mosques in the country. Featuring a Sumatran-style façade similar to Kampung Kling Mosque’s, the current brick structure is more than 200 years old. It is set approximately two kilometres towards the road leading to Port Dickson, northwest of Malacca town.
Locals call it Tranquerah Mosque and the original 18th-century structure, made of timber brought from Kalimantan, Indonesia, was built in 1728. In 1780, the mosque underwent its first renovation project: an extensive rebuilding that left only the original minaret, a freestanding octagonal structure with Chinese-style embellishments, untouched. Today, the main complex resembles most Malaccan mosques with a main prayer hall featuring a three-level roof as well as Malay, Chinese and Indonesian decorative elements. Read More...
- Location: Jalan Tengkerah
Macau Gallery, situated in Bukit Peringgit in Malacca, is a double-storey complex showcasing the best of Macau for those who would like to know more about this interesting region. Situated on the western side of the Pearl River Delta across from Hong Kong to the east, Macau was formerly administered by Portugal and shares a lot of similarities with Malacca in terms of culture and architecture, and while it is mostly known as gambling central, Macau has a lot more to offer, especially for history and culture aficionados.
The Macau Gallery also has a small coffee and tea break seating area, a library and a multipurpose room that can be rented for personal functions. To get to Macau Gallery, take the Panorama bus (going towards Hospital Melaka/Bukit Baru/Bukit Katil) from Melaka Sentral, and alight in front of Hospital Melaka. The gallery is within ten minutes’ walk from the hospital. Read More...
- Opening Hours: Tuesday – Sunday 10:00 – 17:00
- Address: 6, Bukit Peringgit, Malacca
- Tel: +606 286 9939