An Introduction to Melaka

Historic City

Introduction

Teeming with history and drama, Melaka is a must-see on any tourist’s itinerary in Malaysia. Its people, many descended from foreign countries who married and settled down here, have a culture and way of life distinct from the rest of Malaysia, so much so that UNESCO has named it a World Heritage Site in July 2008.

Earning that recognition comes easily as Melaka is the only state in Malaysia that has been conquered by successive foreign invaders intent on monopolizing its trade routes during those golden centuries when it was the trade centre along the Straits of Malacca (as it was then known).

The very origin of its name is a source of several different accounts. Some contend that it was named after the “pokok Melaka” that grew in abundance there. Another account which is being taught in history books in Malaysia is that it was founded by a Sumatran prince, Parameswara, who while hunting one day was so taken in by the courage of a mousedeer that he decided to found on the spot the city and named it “Melaka” after the tree that happened to be shading him at the time.

Thereafter, his descendants reigned for several generations in what is known as the Malaccan sultanate. In 1511, several fleets of the Portuguese armada invaded the tiny sultanate in order to extend its trade route. The Dutch followed suit. Today, buildings such as the Stadthuys (Red Square) stand tall and proud as a legacy of the Dutch rule. The English marched in after that before Melaka gai...
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