Malacca, Penang and Singapore- the three trading hubs known as the Straits Settlements, and governed collectively as a Crown Colony by the British. But Malacca's history of colonisation goes back much further. It was captured by the Portuguese under Afonso de Albuquerque in August 1511. In 1641 the Dutch defeated the Portuguese to capture Malacca. Subsequently, the Dutch traded Malacca with the British settlement of Bencoolen in Sumatra. Because of these successive waves of colonisation, Malacca, more so than Singapore or Penang, displays a deeper cultural diversity than either city.
My own family history says that my maternal great-grandmother, was from Malacca before she came down to Singapore and married my great-grandfather. But my visit to Malacca was prompted more by the wish to have a little break from work and at the same time to do some shopping (hopefully a kebaya or a pair of beaded shoes). I came back with a pair of antique earrings instead, and a comfortable feeling that my kasut manek creation will indeed stand out in comparison with anything in Malacca.
Visitors to Malacca can't really miss the "Red Square" - the Dutch Studhuys, Christ Church and other municipal buildings.
St Paul's church. The church was built by the Portuguese in 1521, surely making it one of the oldest Catholic churches in Southeast Asia. Originally named "Our Lady of the Hill", the church was renamed by the Dutch when they took over Malacca and converted it to a Dutch Reform church. It was subsequently abandoned and has fallen into ruins over the years. Walking around the ruins today, and looking at the tombstones around the sides of the church, the sense of history still remains strong. Some names on the tombstones are familiar, like Westerhout and de Wind, as their descendents are still living in Malaysia and Singapore today. Tour groups, student groups, individual tourists/families walk quietly around the site.
More Malacca photos here.
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