Malacca; A Brief History
Header photo (top): A section of the fort (A’Famosa).
Malacca was founded by Parameswara, a prince from Palembang who fled to Singapura (Singapore) and then to Bertam River (earlier name of the Malacca River); escaping an attack by the Majapahit soldiers. While resting here he witnessed how a mouse deer managed to push his hunting dogs into the water. Amused by the bravery of the mouse deer he decided to name the place Malacca; the name of the tree he was resting under when the incident occurred.
Note: Malacca tree or “pokok Melaka” (Phyllanthus emblica).
The Malacca tree (Phyllanthus emblica) with its fruits.
Parameswara saw the advantages of the area and proceeded to build a trading port with facilities to store goods. The locals who were then known as Orang Laut (Sea People) were then employed by Parameswara to protect the area from pirates. With a port that provides protection both from the weather and pirates, the port of Malacca soon became an important trading for the Chinese, Javanese, Burmese, Indian, etc. merchants.
The port of Malacca continued to grow for decades after the demise of Parameswara and became one of the most important and riches ports in the area. Even the Portuguese writer and trader, Tom Pires, mentioned that whoever is lord of Malacca shall have his hands on the throat of Venice. After having fallen to the Portuguese, the Dutch, the British, and the Japanese; Malacca now boasts some of the most well known historical sites in peninsula Malaysia such as the A’famosa that is one the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Southeast Asia.
Christ Church in Malacca is one of the city’s oldest church after St Paul’s (up on St. Paul’s Hill).
Getting To Malacca
Kuala Lumpur to Malacca
By road: 180km from Kuala Lumpur City Centre
Singapore to Malacca
By road: 257km from Singapore (Changi Airport). Coaches are available from Changi Airport.
By flight: One could flight to KLIA (Kuala Lumpur International Airport) and take a bus to Malacca
Note: Although Malacca has an international airport and a train station (38 km away from Malacca city), if you are in Kuala Lumpur it is recommended to go to Malacca from Kuala Lumpur by road.
Google Maps to Malacca City.
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.
The Malacca Maritime Museum tells of the illustrious past of Malacca and how the sea helped her flourish as well as put her through war.
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.
Restaurants are plenty but hidden gems are a rarity. Here is one of them; Tong Lang Sing Restaurant