Melaka Old City Walking Tour, Melaka

Melaka Old City Walking Tour (Self Guided), Melaka

Rich in heritage, Melaka City is one of the most attractive tourist destinations in Malaysia. From its humble beginnings as a coastal village, it went on to witness the glorious tales of the Melaka Sultanate and later became the setting for the country’s colonial past with the Portuguese, Dutch and British leaving their mark on its tapestry. The history of Melaka is manifested in numerous landmarks, particularly abundant in the historic heart of the city, near the coastline, which is dubbed the Historic City and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2008.

The area of Dutch Square lives up to its name, surrounded by Dutch buildings such as the Stadthuys (City Hall). One of the most historical sites in the city, built between 1641 and 1660 on the ruins of a Portuguese fort, this building had served as the seat of several successive municipal governments, for over 300 years, prior to becoming a history museum.

Situated opposite the Stadthuys is the Christ Church, an instantly recognizable brick-red edifice marked with a huge white cross at the top. Completed in 1753 to commemorate a century of Dutch rule in Melaka, it is the oldest Protestant church in Malaysia. Apart from its purely commemorative purpose, the church was built to complement another European place of worship, St Paul’s chapel, located at the summit of St Paul’s Hill, that had been extant since 1521.

At the bottom of the Hill stands a wooden replica of the 15th century palace of the sixth Sultan of Melaka, Sultan Mansur Shah. Known as the Melaka Sultanate Palace Museum, opened in 1986, it showcases some 1,350 artifacts, detailing the Melaka Malay Sultanate’s history and cultural heritage.

The Porta De Santiago, more commonly known as A’Famosa, is yet another major local historical landmark. Built in 1511 by the Portuguese, this Fort is one of the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Asia. Contrary to it, the Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple is the oldest existing Hindu temple in Malaysia. As for the strong Chinese cultural influence in the region, it is manifested by the Cheng Hoon Teng Temple in the Chinatown, where many Chinese traders have settled since the era of Sultanate of Malacca.

To explore the most popular and noteworthy landmarks of Old Melaka and to learn more about the city's fascinating history, take this self-guided walking tour!
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Melaka Old City Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Melaka Old City Walking Tour
Guide Location: Malaysia » Melaka (See other walking tours in Melaka)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 11
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 1.5 Km or 0.9 Miles
Author: leticia
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Red Clock Tower
  • Stadthuys (City Hall)
  • Christ Church
  • Dutch Graveyard
  • Malacca Sultanate Palace
  • A Famosa Fort
  • St. Paul's Church
  • Middelburg Bastion
  • Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple
  • Kampong Kling Mosque
  • Cheng Hoon Teng Temple
Red Clock Tower

1) Red Clock Tower

The Red Clock Tower, otherwise known as Tan Beng Swee Clock Tower, is a 134-year-old clock tower located in Dutch Square. It is one of the most popular spots for tourists in Melaka.

The 50-foot tower was built in 1886 by Tan Jiak Kim, a Peranakan Chinese philanthropist who wanted to fulfill the wishes of his father Tan Beng Swee, who dreamed of a clock tower in the heart of Melaka. Tan Jiak Kim built the clock tower at the Stadthuys building where it would be most prominent.

The red color of the tower blends well with the Stadthuys, particularly with its contrasting white shutters. However, the design is not meant to reflect the Dutch Colonialism architecture of City Hall. Rather, it was constructed in Britain using a Portuguese design, present in a clock tower that previously sat in the same spot.

The four clock faces use Roman numerals to mark the time. They have continued functioning without stopping for more than 100 years due to regular cleanings and maintenance. The clock tower also features a predatory bird sound system, that deters crows and pigeons.

The Red Clock Tower is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Stadthuys (City Hall)

2) Stadthuys (City Hall)

The Stadthuys is the historic City Hall in Malacca. Located in Dutch Square, Stadthuys is one of the most distinctive buildings in the city. It is noted for its red-painted exterior and the accompanying Red Clock Tower added in the 19th century.

The building is thought to be the oldest Dutch building in Southeast Asia that is still standing. Designed by British naval engineer and architect Sir Maurice Alexander Cameron, in the Dutch Colonial architectural style, construction was completed in 1660 on the ruins of the old fortress.

Occupying forces used the Stadthuys for more than 300 years. It was the center of government for the Dutch, British, Japanese and Malaysian until 1980 when it was converted into the History and Ethnography Museum.

Statues with flags recognizing occupying forces greet visitors at the museum. They can then see traditional costumes and artifacts like porcelain, weaponry, works of art, and models depicting the ships that carried occupying forces through the Strait of Malacca.
Christ Church

3) Christ Church

Christ Church stands as Malaysia's oldest functioning Protestant church, falling under the Lower Central Archdeaconry of the Anglican Diocese of West Malaysia. Back in 1741, the Dutch burgher community made the call to replace the aging Bovenkerk with a new church. This project saw its start with the laying of the foundation stone by Abraham de Wind, a native of Malacca and the Captain of the Malacca Burghers. Twelve years of construction ensued, leading to the church's completion in 1753, taking over as the primary Dutch Reformed Church in Dutch Malacca.

The turning point came with the signing of the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824, which shifted Malacca's possession to the British East India Company. Subsequently, in 1838, the church underwent re-consecration under the rites of the Church of England by the Right Reverend Daniel Wilson, the Anglican Bishop of Calcutta, who also renamed it Christ Church. Later, in 1858, the responsibility for maintaining the church transitioned to the Government of the Straits Settlements.

Originally sporting a white coat, the church, along with the adjacent Stadthuys building, adopted a striking red hue in 1911, a color scheme that has since become emblematic of Malacca's Dutch-era architecture.

As for its architectural style, Christ Church boasts a Dutch Colonial design, presenting a simple rectangular structure measuring 82 by 42 feet. Inside, the ceiling soars to 40 feet, supported by wooden beams, each hewn from a single tree. Over time, the original Dutch windows underwent alterations, gaining embellishments following the British takeover of Malacca. Moreover, the porch and vestry additions only materialized in the mid-19th century.
Dutch Graveyard

4) Dutch Graveyard

The Dutch Graveyard is a cemetery located at Saint Paul's Hill behind Saint Paul's Church. It was first used during the 17th century when Dutch forces occupied Malacca.

Bodies were interred at the cemetery from 1670 to 1682. The remains of five Dutch officers from this period are still located at the cemetery. The graveyard was used again under British occupation from 1818 to 1838. During this time, 33 British officers and their spouses were interred at the cemetery.

The Dutch Graveyard is a quiet sanctuary that is often overlooked by visitors. It is worth a stop to view some of the tombstones, such as that of Royal Navy Captain John Kidd.

There is no gate in the cemetery which allows 24-hour access. However, there is also no lighting at the cemetery. While this lends to the spooky atmosphere, those who are interested in reading the tombstones should plan to visit in the light of day.
Malacca Sultanate Palace

5) Malacca Sultanate Palace

Malacca Sultanate Palace is a museum and exhibition hall. The museum showcases the culture and history of Melaka (Malacca) throughout the palace and the carefully manicured garden.

The original palace was built in the 15th century. The existing Malacca Sultanate Palace was rebuilt in 1984 for use as a museum at the behest of Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. The palace officially opened in July 1986.

The building was designed to resemble the palace of the Malacca Sultanate, Mansur Shah, as closely as possible. Using data from the Malay Annals, a literary work that gives a primary source of information on past events, the museum even uses the same types of construction materials that would have been used in the original palace. The walls and roof are made from wood, and the structure uses wooden pegs rather than nails.

The objective of the Malacca Sultanate Palace Museum is to preserve the architectural style used for these palaces and to exhibit artifacts from royal households. It also informs patrons about the heritage of the Malay people, the Malacca Sultanate, and the battle of Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat, the legendary Malaccan heroes known for their rebellion against the Malacca Sultanate.
A Famosa Fort

6) A Famosa Fort

A Famosa was a Portuguese fortress built in 1512. Now mostly in ruins, visitors to the Dutch Square can see A Famosa as an integral part of the history of Melaka.

The fortress was controlled by the Portuguese from its construction through 1641. The Dutch took control of the fort from 1641 to 1795, leaving its mark on the area. In 1795, Britain became the controlling force and demolished most of the fortress in 1807.

All that remains of the fortress is a small gatehouse Santiago's Gate (Porta de Santiago), the City Hall, the church, and a restored bastion. It was once a five-story fortress with reinforced outer walls and four major towers. One of these towers was the tallest building in the area until 1641 when the tower was destroyed by Dutch forces.

These portions of the fort were restored from 2004 to 2006. Tourists may explore the gates and the bastion 24 hours a day.
St. Paul's Church

7) St. Paul's Church (must see)

Saint Paul's Church is a former church that now functions as an outdoor museum. It is part of the Malacca Museum Complex along with the ruins of A Famosa and Stadthuys. It is the oldest church building in Malaysia and Southeast Asia.

The church was originally built as a Roman Catholic chapel in 1521 by Portuguese nobleman Duarte Coelho, as an act of gratitude following his escape from a storm in the South China Sea. It was dedicated to the Virgin Mary as Our Lady of the Annunciation. In 1548 Saint Francis Xavier, a Spanish Jesuit, the patron saint of Roman Catholic missions, developed a school on the premises of the chapel, the first school established in the Malay Peninsula. The second floor was added to the small chapel in 1556, and a belfry tower was built in 1590. The chapel was renamed the Igreja de Madre de Deus (Church of the Mother of God).

The building was later used as a Dutch Reformed church after the Dutch conquest. It was renamed Saint Paul's Church and functioned as the main church of the Dutch Community through 1753.

Saint Paul's Church fell into ruins after it was deconsecrated following the construction of a new Dutch Reformed church. During the British occupation, it was used as a powder magazine and allowed to fall into even further disrepair.

Efforts have been made over the years to restore and protect Saint Paul's though it remains in disrepair. Tourists can explore the ruins by paying careful attention to the Dutch tombstones that have been restored and placed against the church's interior walls.
Middelburg Bastion

8) Middelburg Bastion

Middelburg Bastion is a historically significant 17th-century fortification located in Melaka, overlooking the Malacca River near the renowned Dutch Square. Originally part of a comprehensive defensive wall stretching 1.5 kilometers around the historic center of the city, this wall encompassed key landmarks such as Saint Paul’s Church, Christ Church, and the Stadthuys.

The bastion is notably the sole surviving structure out of nine that constituted the Malacca Fortress. Its name, Middelburg, pays homage to the city of Middelburg in Zeeland, Netherlands. Following Melaka's capture from the Portuguese by the Dutch in 1641, enhanced security measures were imperative due to ongoing threats. The Dutch reinforced the existing defenses, which included constructing the Middelburg Bastion at the strategically vital mouth of the Malacca River in 1660, building upon the fortifications left by the Portuguese.

The bastion faced near-total destruction in 1807 by British forces, who subsequently took formal control of the city in 1825. What remains today is a meticulously reconstructed version of the original structure, based on historical documents and archaeological findings that determined the precise location of the original walls.

The reconstruction has sparked some debate, with local historians arguing that the replica is smaller than the original bastion. Despite this, the restored Middelburg Bastion, complete with cannons, provides a vivid representation of the 17th-century fortress. It is accessible to the public year-round, offering free admission and an educational glimpse into Melaka's storied past.
Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple

9) Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple

Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple, located in Melaka, holds the distinction of being the oldest Hindu temple in Malaysia that remains intact and is one of the oldest functioning Hindu temples in Maritime Southeast Asia. The temple was established in 1781 by Thavinayagar Chitty, a leader among the Chitty community—a group of Tamil merchants in Malaysia—after the Dutch colonial government of Malacca allocated a plot of land for this purpose. The dedication of the temple is to Vinayagar, or Ganesha, depicted traditionally with the head of an elephant and the body of a man with four hands. Additionally, there is a dedicated altar for Lord Muruga, who is revered as the younger brother of Lord Vinayagar.

The temple's rich history is anchored in the support from the Dutch colonial era, which formally handed over a piece of land in the 1780s as recorded in the Dutch grant. This has been maintained under the trusteeship of the Chitty community leaders, the latest being the late Mr. Thaivanayagam Chitty.

The temple features three exquisitely carved wooden Rathams (chariots), each over 200 years old and dedicated to different deities: Lord Ganesha, Lord Subramanian Swamy, and Lord Rama Swamy. These Rathams are integral to the temple’s festivities, especially during the temple’s vibrant chariot processions, where they are pulled by bullocks and adorned with decorative lamps, creating a beautiful spectacle at night.

Today, Sri Poyyatha Vinayagar Moorthi Temple remains a testament to the enduring legacy and spiritual devotion of the Chitty community in Malaysia, continuing to serve as a focal point for worship and celebration in the heart of historic Malacca.
Kampong Kling Mosque

10) Kampong Kling Mosque

The Kampong Kling Mosque, located on Jalan Tukang Emas (also known as "Harmony Street") in Melaka, is a significant historical and architectural landmark. The street earned its nickname due to its unique location near both the Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple and Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, reflecting the multicultural coexistence in the area.

This mosque was originally constructed in 1748 by Indian Muslim traders from a village named Kampong Kling. Initially built from wood, it was later reconstructed using bricks in 1872, which allowed it to retain much of its original design, making it one of the few traditional mosques in Melaka to do so.

The architecture of Kampong Kling Mosque is particularly noteworthy for its eclectic blend of cultural influences. It features architectural elements from Sumatran, Chinese, Hindu, and Malay traditions. The mosque's minaret is designed to resemble a pagoda and includes a three-story roof, reflecting a fusion of religious architectural styles. Additionally, the mosque encompasses an ablution pool and an intricately designed entrance arch that was built concurrently with the main building.

Inside, the mosque is decorated with English and Portuguese glazed tiles and houses Corinthian columns with symmetrical arches in the main prayer hall. These elements are complemented by a Victorian chandelier, a wooden pulpit with Hindu and Chinese-style carvings, and Moorish cast iron lamp-posts used around the ablution area for pre-prayer cleansing. The floor tiles, which add to the mosque's unique aesthetic, were custom-ordered by the Chi Na Manchu Cing Islamic Caliphate.

In the 1990s, the Department of Museums and Antiquities undertook conservation works to preserve the integrity and beauty of Kampong Kling Mosque, ensuring its historical and cultural significance remains intact for future generations. This mosque not only serves as a place of worship but also as a testament to the rich, diverse cultural heritage of Melaka.
Cheng Hoon Teng Temple

11) Cheng Hoon Teng Temple

The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple, otherwise known as the Temple of Green Cloud, is a Chinese temple in Malacca City. It is the oldest still operating temple in Malaysia.

The temple practices the Three Doctrinal Systems of Buddhism, Confucianism, and Taoism. It was founded by Chinese Captains Tay Kie Ki and Tay Hong Yong in 1645. Later, in 1673, the temple was expanded with materials brought in from China.

The temple served as the central place of worship for the local Hoklo community. Due to an increase in population, the main hall was added in 1704. The temple remained untouched for nearly 100 years until it was renovated in 1801.

The main features of the temple are an ornate gate, several prayer halls, and a primary prayer hall dedicated to Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. The temple practices feng shui, which ensures an excellent view of the water and the high ground on both sides of the structure.

The Cheng Hoon Teng Temple was given a UNESCO award for outstanding architectural restoration in 2003.

Walking Tours in Melaka, Malaysia

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Create Your Own Walk in Melaka

Creating your own self-guided walk in Melaka is easy and fun. Choose the city attractions that you want to see and a walk route map will be created just for you. You can even set your hotel as the start point of the walk.
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Melaka Introduction Walking Tour

Melaka often spelled as Malacca, is the oldest Malaysian city on the Straits of Malacca. Melaka is a historic city that was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2008.

According to legend, when Parameswara, the founder of Melaka, arrived here in the late 14th century. While he was resting under a tree known as a Melaka tree, he saw his warrior's hunting dogs being challenged and kicked...  view more

Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.8 Km or 1.7 Miles