Melaka, Malaysia

Melaka River

Melaka River

Melaka (Malacca) is the largest city and capital of the state of the same name, located near the mouth of Melaka River in the southwestern region of Peninsular Malaysia. Melaka is a historic city dating back to the 15th century and its main attractions are its wealth of history, earning it the designation as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in July 2008. Many of the attractions are located within the small city centre and therefore easy to get around and visit many of the sites on foot.
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Melaka was a simple fishing village inhabited by local Malays until the arrival of the first sultan. The city was founded around 1402 by a Malay-Hindu prince named Parameswara (later named Iskandar Shah) who was also the last Raja of Temasek (modern day Singapore). Parameswara established a major trading port in Melaka attracting merchant ships and traders from the region. Melaka eventually developed into a powerful sultanate until its conquest and colonization by the Portuguese in 1511.

Like the rest of Malaysia, Melaka is home to many ethnic races including Malays, Chinese and Indians. Melaka is also the home of the 'Peranakan' culture in Malaysia, Chinese settlers who came here as miners, traders and coolies during the era of the Melaka sultanate. Many took local brides though not all intermarried but fused local customs with their Chinese culture. There is also a small group of Eurasians of Portuguese descent who continue to speak a unique creole language known as Cristao or Kristang.

A'Famosa, Melaka
15th century A'Famosa

Main Attractions
Located in the old part of the city centre, the A'Famosa Fort and St. Paul's Cathedral built by the Portuguese and Stadhuys built by the Dutch centuries ago are major landmarks in Melaka. There seems to be 'overdose' of museums in the area and many of them are small to medium-sized. These include the Melaka Sultanate Palace (Cultural Museum), Melaka Islamic Museum, Maritime Museum and Proclamation of Independence Memorial.

Nearby are the old two-storey private houses and shops built more than a century ago and reminiscent of the architecture during the British colonial era. The old city area also encompasses the narrow Jonker Street (officially known as Jalan Hang Jebat), Melaka's traditional Chinatown. This is a lively area especially at night with its restaurants, cafes and shops and a paradise for antique collectors. Another popular attraction is the boat cruise along the Melaka River, passing through old buildings in this historic city.

Jonker Street, Melaka
Jonker Street
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