12 Interesting Facts About Malacca - Don't Mess With Melaka!

Malacca, also known as Melaka, is one of the oldest cities in Malaysia, which resides in the southern region of the Malay Peninsula. When it comes to this historic city, there is indeed more said than heard about its antiques, cultural connotations, unique heritage, fishing hotspots, and how it was the most sought-after transshipment port ever! Scroll down to get to know some remarkable facts about this historically celebrated city!

Here are 12 fun facts to know about Malacca - 

1. The city of Malacca was founded in 1400 by Parameswara, the Temasek Ruler (Now Singapore)

Poster art of old trading port of Melaka
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Back in 1400, Parameswara, the last ruler of Tumasik, entered this tiny fishing village seeking refuge from the Javanese Kingdom of Majapahit. He was popularly known as Iskandar Shah or Sri Majara of the Temasek Kingdom during the 1370s. He found his way into this Malay port ruled by the Chinese, which was then a major resting place for the traders and passers to find food and drink fresh water from the springs.

2. The city got its name from a tree named Malacca

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As the legend goes, while the Temasek ruler Parameswara was resting under a tree named Malacca, he witnessed a tiny mouse deer defeating his two hunting dogs and pushing them into the river. Startled by the might of the tiny creature, the ruler named Melaka after the tree he was seating beneath!

3. Malacca was recognized by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site in 2008

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Known for the longest period of the Dutch rule of about 183 years, Melaka's art and architecture were defined by these rulers. Among its other historic architectural sites, the Baba Nyonya Heritage Museum and the Malacca Sultanate Palace are one of the most renowned places. Having a great deal of history behind its name, Malacca is popularly known as the unofficial capital of Malaysia!

4. Melaka was the first great maritime Kingdom in the Malay Archipelago

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Ruled by the strongest Srivijaya Kingdom in the 15th century, there are records of many Chinese, Arab, and Indian traders lauding Malacca as the most influential port of the Southwest region in ancient times. It became the first great maritime Kingdom in the Malay Archipelago and was later followed by other neighbourhood ports. A Portuguese trader who once landed in Melaka in the 16th century said, “The city is of so much importance and profit. It seems to me it has no equal in the world!”

5. Malacca was once a fishing village occupied by the local Malays named Orang Lauts

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Before the advent of any of the other Kingdoms into the Straits of Malacca, the people of Malacca lived peacefully under sloping rooftops of traditional Malay houses that used to hang over the water. They were mere fishermen pursuing their daily duties and influenced by none.

6. St. Peter’s Church of Malacca is the oldest Roman Catholic Church in Malaysia

St.Peter's Church in Melaka
St.Peter's Church in Melaka
Built on the outskirts of the city, this beautiful cathedral is said to have been established during the era of the Portuguese in 1710. The Church is currently monitored by the Diocese of Malacca-Johor. According to a legend, the church was built upon the ruins of another church named St. Lawrence which was burnt down to ashes by the Dutch. The bell tower is the oldest antique piece here, cast in Goa which dates back to 1608.

7.  Melaka’s Jonker Street showcases some colourful Murals and Graffiti

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Take a stroll down the Jonker street or the streets of Malaccan Strait Mosque, to witness funky wall art and graffiti that portray the cultural and historical story of this legendary city!

8. The Legend of Puteri Gunung Ledang – A pure Fairytale!

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During the reign of the Sultan, there was once a celestial princess known as ‘Puteri Gunung Ledang’ who was considered as the most beautiful fairy ever! The locals believed that their then Sultan Muhammad Syah, had an eye for her and wanted her, to which the fairy laid 7 seven impossible conditions to test the Sultan:
a) A golden walkway for her to walk to Malacca from the mountain
b) A silver walkway for her to return from Malacca to the mountain
c) Seven barrels of virgin tears for her to bathe in
d) Seven barrels of young betel nut juices for her to bathe in
e) Seven trays filled with hearts of germs
f) Seven trays filled with hearts of mosquitoes
g) A bowl of the blood of the Sultan's young son.
According to some sources, though the Sultan managed to fulfil the 6 conditions, he was struck by the thought of killing his own son and eventually failed. Thus, the Sultan was blinded by the love of beauty, thus causing the ruin of his own Kingdom.

9. Peranakan cuisine is the most famous delicacy of Melaka

Peranakan Cuisine of Melaka
If you are wondering about the name of this cuisine, then ‘Peranakan’ is an Indonesian/Malay word that translates to ‘local born’. The cuisine belongs to these Peranakans who are recognized to be the descendants of the early Chinese migrants who settled in Malaysia and Indonesia, inter-marrying the local Malays. So, this type of cuisine is seen as a cultural mix of innovation that brings the best of the Malay herbs, cooked with the traditional Chinese methods, and served with the local spices!

10. Trishaws or rickshaws decorated with colourful flowers are popular tourist rides in Melaka

Colorful Trishaws
To make going around the city more fun and exciting, the rickshaw owners of Malacca often adorn their tricycles with colourful flowers, beads wreaths, and other fancy items to attract their customers and give them a refreshing and a warm ride!

11. Taming Sari – The popular revolving tower in Melaka!

Taming Sari Tower
Located in Bandar Hilir district, this popular tower built-in 2008, stands tall up to a height of 110 meters and carries 80 passengers at a time for a 7-minute ride. A popular story goes that this tower is named after a mythical weapon named ‘Taming Sari Keri’ that contains mystical powers that once belonged to Hang Tuah, a Malay warrior. The structure also resembles this powerful weapon. Besides being a major tourist attraction to get a bird’s eye view of the entire city, this tower was built using Swiss technologies and can withstand earthquakes up to a scale of 10 Richter! 

12. Check out Melaka Gateway - which is going to be Southeast Asia’s largest private marina by 2025

Melaka Gateway 2025 Project
This RM 42 billion harbour project, which started in 2015, is billed as the largest and the most ambitious initiative of China and Malaysia. This offshore development of artificial islands will comprise 12 divisions, which will cover commercial, residential, cultural, entertainment, and other lifestyle elements. Some of them include international theme parks, terminal for cruise ships, cultural walks, fashion districts, skyline apartments, private yachts, luxurious villas, resorts, and much more. It is said to provide opportunities for 15000 jobs, attract 900,000 tourists in the first operational year, and is expected to be completed by 2025!

 So, are you ready for a tour around the historic City of Malacca?

This post was published by Gayathri Babu

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