A’Famosa (pronounced A as in Ah but without the h sound at the end, Fa mo sa) is a Portuguese fortress built by Afonso de Albuquerque, a Portuguese General who led the Portuguese army to victory in the conquest of Malacca in 1511. A’Famosa translates to “The Famous” in Portuguese. When one visits A’Famosa what one sees is what’s left of this fort; a gate house called the Porta de Santiago (the Bastion of Santiago).
Behind the Porta de Santiago used to be the inside of the fort. The fort also known as Fortaleza de la Malacca (Fortress of Malacca) covers a huge area of which used to be within the safety of a wall built of sandstones from a nearby island, called Upeh Island. Within the walls of the fort are towers, a town with houses, ammunition stores, the residence of the captain and officers, etc.
A’Famosa; what’s left of a great fort built by the Portuguese.
The Dutch Era
The era of the Portuguese came to an end when the Dutch East India Company (Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie) together with warriors from Johor (Southernmost state of Peninsula Malaysia) attacked them and won, effectively driving them out of Malacca in 1641. The Dutch then ruled for almost 183 years (1641-1824). During their rule they renovated the gate in 1670, adding a logo inscribed with the words ANNO 1670 and a logo of the Dutch East India Company. This logo is still visible today at the A’Famosa or rather the Porta de Santiago.
The words ANNO 1670 and the logo of the Dutch East India Company above it.
The Era Of The British
The Dutch handed Malacca over to the British under the British East India Company in 1824 in exchange for Bencoolen in Sumatra under the Angle-Dutch Treaty of 1824. The British got wary of maintaining the fort and proceeded to destroy it except for the gate (Porta de Santiago), St Paul’s Church, the Stadhuys, etc.; thanks to an intervention by Sir Stamford Raffles.
Left: The front of the A’Famosa. Middle and right: the inside of the A’Famosa. Its walls are made of sandstones from a nearby island.
The back section of A’Famosa.
Parts of the fort can still be seen at various places around the city such as the Bastion Middleburg at the mouth of the Malacca River, Bastion Victoria (originally named St Domingo by the Portuguese) located at a section of the Malacca River (in front of the Church of St Francis Xavier), and Bastion Santiago located across the road from Bastion House (Malay and Islamic World Museum).
Parts of the A’Famosa fort that is located nearer the Malacca River.
Below are Google Maps location to these places.
Google Maps to A’Famosa (Porta de Santiago)
Google Maps to Bastion Victoria
Google Maps to Bastion Middleburg
Google Maps to Bastion Santiago
Malacca used to be a very important maritime hub and thus maritime museums are a must visit. The Submarine Museum in Malacca gives one the opportunity to see what the inside of an old submarine looks and feels like.
The Historical and Ethnography Museum displays a brief history of Malacca showcasing Malacca under different rules.
A cruise on the Melaka River is a relaxing experience. Melaka River snakes through a part of Malacca’s historical city making it a relaxing way to enjoy the sights.
Directed by Wang Chaoge, the more well known for the opening ceremony of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing (co-director); Encore Melaka tells a story about Malacca and its history as well as a story of its people.