KKday Guides: Malacca City, Malaysia’s Historic Capital

Malacca, Malaysia: Porta de Santiago

Malacca was a sleepy fishing town before booming into a world-class trading port in the 1600s. Centuries of European and Asian influence have turned the city into a melting pot of cultures, cuisines, and architectural styles. A living kaleidoscope of international cultures, Malacca City earned UNESCO World Heritage recognition in 2008.

Over the years, Malacca has drawn more and more crowds. And getting to and around the city has never been easier. Immerse yourself in the city’s lost-in-time charm when you explore all its historic places.

Malacca Old Town

Malacca has been a stronghold for many colonial powers—the Portuguese, the Dutch, and the British. You can easily divide the city by the way the Malacca River cuts through it, and on the Eastern bank, you’ll find many of the city’s colonial European sites.

The Stadthuys at Dutch Square

Dutch Square is as historical as it is picturesque. With bright, teracotta-red buildings surrounding a Victorian-style marble fountain, the best way to appreciate the square is with a trishaw ride.

Malacca, Malaysia: The Stadthuys at Dutch Square
[/media-credit] Malacca, Malaysia: The Stadthuys at Dutch Square

Here you find one of Malacca’s most prominent landmarks, The Stadthuys. Its said to be the oldest Dutch building in the East, and served as the town hall and governor’s residence. Nowadays, it houses a series of museums and galleries.

St. Paul’s Church

You won’t be able to say your prayers here—St. Paul’s Church has been in ruins for over 150 years. It was originally built by the Portuguese, but abandoned after the Dutch completed their own Protestant Christ Church.

Malacca, Malaysia: St. Paul's Church
Malacca, Malaysia: St. Paul’s Church

Still, Catholics and curious travelers alike walk up St. Paul’s Hill (or Bukit St. Paul) to marvel at the elaborately designed tombstones. Here, you’ll find the graves of Dutch nobility, and the temporary internment of the celebrated St. Francis Xavier. Or you can skip these somber historical sites and enjoy a breathtaking view of Malacca from the hill summit.

Porta de Santiago

In its heyday, Porta de Santiago was an impressive military fortress with 4-meter thick walls and a 40-meter watchtower. It was built by the Portuguese to fend off attacks from the Melaka Sultanate Era.

Malacca, Malaysia: Porta de Santiago
Malacca, Malaysia: Porta de Santiago

The fortress changed hands among Malaca’s different colonizers—after the Portuguese, the Dutch. And then finally the British, before crumbling under British canon fire. Now, only one ruined gate remains. But you can still spot the ‘VOC’ inscription of the Dutch East India Company on the arch.


On the Western bank of the Malacca River is bustling Chinatown. This end is a stark contrast to the quiet, eastern side of the city. Many regard Chinatown as the heart of Malacca, and is best explored on foot.

Cheng Hoong Teng Temple

Unlike the churches on the eastern bank, worshippers still frequent the Cheng Hoong Teng Temple to pray. This Buddhist temple (the oldest in all of Malaysia) features a number of intricate prayer halls, the largest one dedicated to Guanyin, the goddess of mercy.

Malacca, Malysia: Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
Malacca, Malysia: Cheng Hoon Teng Temple

Cheng Hoong Teng Temple also draws interest for its elaborate architecture. The temple was built on fengh shui principles, with a view of the river and high ground on each side.

Jonker Street

Jonker Street cuts across the center of Chinatown, dotted with colonial buildings, elaborate Buddhist temples, and the best of Nyonya cuisine.

Malacca, Malysia: Jonker Street Night Market
Malacca, Malysia: Jonker Street Night Market

See the street come of life on the weekend; Apart from stalls that sell all sorts of bargain trinkets, the Jonker Street Night Market is full of live musical performances, friendly locals, and stylish bars open until until late.

For more cultural guides and tours, check out the rest of our website:

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