Melaka, Malaysia



Portuguese Settlement

The Portuguese ruled Melaka during the 16th and 17th century and many married with the local Malays and possibly Indians and Chinese. The marriages produced descendants of mixed ethnicity called Portuguese-Eurasian or Kristang and their offspring often intermarried. Some of the descendants in Melaka live on a plot of land purchased in 1933 to preserve their culture and language, a mix of Malay and old Portuguese words.

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Portuguese Settlement at night by Boobooo

The settlement is located southeast of the city centre and to get here, you can take the Melaka Town Bus No. 17 from Melaka Sentral to Ujong Pasir. The Portuguese Settlement is home to a Kristang community of nearly 3,000 living in tidy rows of mostly wooden houses leading to the Portuguese Square (Medan Portugis) and Hotel Lisboa (unlike the Hotel Lisboa in Macau, there is no casino). The people here may look Malay (who are Muslims) but peer into their homes and you will see the statues of Jesus and Mary perched high on the walls.

You can feast yourself to several Kristang restaurants at Portuguese Square and popular are the seafood dishes such as "garing garing fretu" (fried whitebait) and "kaemadu" (baked fish). The most interesting time to visit the Portuguese Settlement is during Intrudu (usually in February) when you will get drenched with buckets of water thrown at you. Another is the "Festa San Pedro" in June to commemorate the Feast of Saint Peter, where there are processions, cultural shows and general merry-making. During the Christmas period, the whole settlement is decked with decorative lights.

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