St. John’s Fort
Rebuilt by the Dutch in the 18th century, St. John’s Fort was once a private Portuguese chapel dedicated to St. John the Baptist. The fort has an interesting feature – cannons face inland as, during that time, attacks on Melaka came mainly from the hinterland instead of from the sea. Another attraction for many is the view from the top of the hill where St. John’s Fort stands, particularly for the fantastic tropical sunsets.
St. Paul’s Hill (A’Famosa)
The Portuguese colonised Melaka from 1511 to 1641. The first thing they did was build a fort overlooking the river, calling it A’Famosa. As Melaka was the centre of struggles between super powers of the time, and suffered the constant threat of attack, the A’Famosa fort was critical in Portugal maintaining its colonial foothold in the Far East. Within the fort walls were housing and food stores, a castle, a meeting room for the Portuguese Council and five churches. A seven-month attack by the Dutch just about destroyed the entire fortress, leaving only the entrance facade and the structure of a church at the top of the hill. Go for a stroll up St. Paul’s Hill on a cool late afternoon and wander among the majestic trees and historical remnants. Here, you can almost imagine the glories and miseries of the besieged lives the Portuguese would have led right here all those years ago.
A definite haven for antique collectors and bargain hunters. Authentic artifacts and relics, some dating as far back as 300 years, can be found among a host of interesting collectibles, each with its own history and mystery. Jalan Hang Jebat, formerly known as Jonker Street, is known worldwide among serious antique collectors as one of the best places to hunt and bargain for antiques. Recently, a new wave of cafes and craft shops have sprouted on this street, lending it a cultured air of old-meets-new.
Melaka River Cruise
The river was the main artery of trade for Melaka in its heyday when it was bustling with traders from all around the world. Some buildings from that era still stand majestically by the river, which is also lined by old villages, or kampungs, and modern day buildings. The 45-minute cruise is accompanied by an entertaining and informative commentary. Also see parts of historical Melaka, get a history lesson for next to nothing, and never break a sweat!
Stadthuys (Red Square)
Built in 1650 as the official residence of the Dutch Governor and his officers, The Stadthuys is a fine example of Dutch architecture of that period. It is believed to be the oldest Dutch building in the East. An outstanding example of colonial Dutch architecture, this edifice now houses the History Museum and Ethnography Museum. On display are traditional bridal costumes and relics from Melaka’s over 400-year history. Both museums are well-laid out and offer detailed explanations of how these costumes and relics played their part in Melaka’s glorious past.