Four facts to get you familiar with Melaka's rich history

MELAKA is a city where history is not just remembered; it is lived and breathed. Founded in 1400 by Parameswara, a ruler with a vision, Melaka grew from a humble fishing village into a bustling maritime kingdom, positioned at the epicentre of regional trade.


Parameswara's quest for a strategic trade post led him to the narrowest choke point of the Melaka Straits. Here, under a tree called "Malacca", as legend narrates, the sight of a mousedeer's surprising victory over hunting hounds inspired the city's name. This serendipitous encounter encapsulated the spirit of Melaka – a place where even the humblest can triumph.


The fifteenth century painted Melaka as Southeast Asia's most crucial trading post, where ships laden with silks and spices anchored in droves. The once small fishing town burgeoned into the first grand maritime empire of the Malay Archipelago, revered by traders from across the ancient world.


In 1511, the Portuguese captured Melaka from the ruling Sultanate. The Dutch conquest in 1641 imprinted the city with a European flair that endures to this day. The iconic Stadthuys, with its striking red façade, serves as the oldest Dutch edifice in the East. But as the Dutch focus shifted towards Indonesia, the British Empire took the helm, leaving their mark under the Anglo-Dutch Treaty of 1824.


In 2008, Melaka's historical significance was enshrined as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, a nod to its collage of colonial architecture and its storied past. The city's landscape is a visual narrative, detailing centuries under Dutch governance – the longest colonial period it endured.


Today, Melaka is not just a relic to be admired but a living museum. Its rich history is a backdrop to the daily lives of its residents, where centuries-old shop houses and modern cafes coexist, where traditional Baba-Nyonya cuisine is as beloved as contemporary fare, and where the tales of old seafarers are as much a part of the fabric of the city as the vibrant street art that adorns its walls.

If you ever pay a visit to Melaka, check out this list for recommendations on things to eat and this list for places to see in Jonker Street.

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