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Melaka, Malaysia is best known for its well preserved culture and heritage. This is why Melaka earned its place in the coveted UNESCO world heritage sites. Melaka or Malacca is Malaysia’s oldest historical city and one of the most popular tourists’ spots in the world today.
The town of Melaka is small and compact. You can visit all of its interesting sites just by walking down the narrow streets lined with specialty shops and century-aged houses. With combined effort from the Melaka Tourist Information Center and American Express Foundation, they developed the Melaka Heritage Trail that will bring tourists to the right places just by following the map. Melaka Heritage Trail is like a walk back in time for tourists. This map is made simple with easy-to-follow diagram and descriptions of each suggested site.
When visiting Melaka, stop by at the Melaka Tourist Information Center first, to pick up your map and for best tips on how to maximize your visit to this ancient town. The center is located right at the heart of old Malacca. Your trail will start here and should end here as well. There are 10 major stops, not to mention your “side-stops” to interesting shops and spots along the trail. So, here it is, enjoy!
Your first stop is to the site where Melaka history started and took shape, the Malacca River. This river was once a busy, major port playing an important role in the spice trade but now it is only used for tourism purposes. Because of this port, Melaka had been colonized by foreign blood so many times. Melaka River Cruises are also offered in this area. At the eastern bank of this river, you can find 15th century Hindu Prince Parameswara’s palace.
Explore the world of Baba Nyonya heritage or Peranakan culture with your next stop. This culture began with inter-racial marriages between the Chinese settlers and native Malay women in Melaka. The Jalan Tun Tan Cheng Lock is the “rich people” lane where houses are designed exquisitely with blends of Dutch and Chinese influences. You can also find Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum in this side of the street where guided tours are held upon request. Check out the miniature shoes, intricately designed, in display. They were used by foot-bound female of Baba Nyonyans.
A short walk and you will find yourself face to face with Malaysian’s oldest Buddhist temple that is fully functional despite its age, the Cheng Hoon Teng or Green Cloud temple. Religiously activities are held here everyday. Further along is the oldest mosque in Malaysia, the Kampong Kling Mosque that was built with Sumatran influence in 1748. Kampong Kling Mosque still remains as the central of the Malay community.
Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia and one of the firsts. This temple is dedicated to Vinayagar, a deity who is known to remove obstacles. Now, when you see the famous bright red building, you will know you are still right on track. This old protestant church is called Christ Church and it is situated in Dutch Square. It is said that there are tombstones underneath the church. Masses are regularly conducted here in different dialects to cater to its multi-lingual congregation and one should not miss the clock tower that was built in 1886.
Going around, you will see the St. Paul’s Historical Complex which houses three of Melaka’s oldest buildings. At the foot of St. Paul’s Hill, you will find the former residence of Dutch governor built in 1650. This building is hard to miss since it was painted red. Right up the top of the hill is the St. Paul’s Church where you can also see the magnificent view of Malacca Strait. On the other side is the surviving gate of A Famosa called Porta de Santiago which was built in 1512.
Stumble upon Malacca Sultanate palace on your way back. This is a fairly new building if compared to those in site since it is a replica of the original palace. It is now home to Malacca Cultural Museum. Your last stop will be the Malacca Club or the Proclamation of Independence memorial. This trail will lead you back to Melaka Tourist Information Center, ending your journey through this fantastic and rich culture of Melaka. After visiting the important sites, feel free to roam around for some more.
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write by Enoch