History of Malacca
Malacca, the land so prominently pronounced in the history of Malaysia, is where the significant chronicles of the Malacca Sultanate were carved – the bygone days, which have changed the fates of its descendants. This is the land that is recognized till today as the golden city of great culture, tradition, heritage and history – it’s Malacca in its multiple facets.
Hugging the West peninsula of Malaysia, Malacca covers a total area of 1,650km2 with a total population of 500,000 people. It is located approximately 148km south of Kuala Lumpur and 245km north of Singapore. Despite being the third smallest state in Malaysia after Perlis and Penang, it is the oldest city of the country and is a melting pot of culture, which inculcates the richness of language, social norms and customs – a specialty that’s distinct from other places in the world.
Tracing back in time, Malacca was founded by Parameswara, a Prince from Sumatera, who fled from his kingdom due to a usurpation of political power. History has it that his decision to establish his kingdom in Malacca was due to his sight of a mouse deer kicking his hunting dog into the river – an incident that denoted courage and vitality, indicating the potential of the land. Its glory and fame kicked off from that very point of time, flourishing into greatness in the map of the ancient world.
Located strategically, Malacca is blessed with one of the world’s greatest treasures – the Straits of Malacca. This strategic waterway, coupled with its convenient land transportation, has attracted the attention of traders from all around the world. For this very fact, it is no wonder that it earned its title as the acclaimed entrepot for centuries, connecting traders from the South-East Asia, Middle East and Africa, amongst the few. Malacca is truly an important trade harbour where the East meets West, welcoming the massive trade flow.
However, blinded by its sparkle and shine, no one foresaw that the attention it garnered would lead to its downfall. In 1511, the Portuguese conquered Malacca and had remained in authority until its defeat to the Dutch in 1641. The Dutch had then ruled the state for a total of 158 years and had conceived very significant architectures and cultures in Malacca that have lasted till today, such as the Stadthuys building, Dutch cuisine and many others.
In 1826, the British power reigned over Malacca, establishing its base to harness the richness of the land as a strategic trade harbour. During the outbreak of the World War II, the Japanese had ruled Malacca for a brief period of time until the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, when the Japanese handed Malacca back to the Crown Colony of the British. The entailing chronicles then fused with the history of Malaysia up till the declaration of independence on 31st August 1957.
The sovereignties of the many foreign powers throughout the centuries had painted Malacca into a portrait so colourful and rich with different cultures. The essence and diversity of each era are evident on every part of the land – from buildings to social norms, food and others. It is indeed one of the most significant destinations in Southeast Asia.