Kota A Famosa is a Portuguese fortress located in Malacca(dubbed ‘The Historic State), Malaysia. It was built by the Portuguese Empire in 1511. It is among the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Asia. It was demolished on August 10th , 1807. The only part that remained is a small gate. It is currently demolished although there are ongoing efforts to reconstruct this fortress. It was controlled by the Portuguese from the year 1511 to 1641, Dutch from the year 1641 to 1795 and English from 1795 to the year when it was demolished.
In 1511, a Portuguese fleet arrived under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque. His forces attacked and defeated the armies of the Malacca Sultanate. Moving quickly to consolidate his gains, Albuquerque had the fortress built around a natural hill near the sea. Albuquerque believed that Malacca would become an important port linking Portugal to the Spice Route in China. At this time other Portuguese were establishing outposts in such places as Macau, China and Goa, India in order to create a string of friendly ports for ships heading to China and returning home to Portugal.
The fortress once consisted of long ramparts and four major towers. One was a four-story keep, while the others held an ammunition storage room, the residence of the captain, and an officers’ quarters. Most of the village clustered in town houses inside the fortress walls. As Malacca’s population expanded it outgrew the original fort and extensions were added around 1586. The fort changed hands in 1641 when the Dutch drove the Portuguese out of Malacca. The Dutch renovated the gate in 1670, which explains the logo “ANNO 1670” inscribed on the gate’s arch. Above the arch is a bas-relief logo of the Dutch East India Company. The fortress changed hands again in the early 19th century when the Dutch handed it over to the British to prevent it from falling into the hands of Napoleon’s expansionist France. The English were wary of maintaining the fortification and ordered its destruction in 1806. The fort was almost totally demolished but for the timely intervention of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, who happened to visit Malacca in 1807. Because of his passion for history, this small gate was spared from destruction.
Places to visit in Malacca
1) St Paul’s Church
St Paul’s Church was built by the Portuguese in 1521. St Francis Xavier, a missionary who came to Melaka in 1545, often visited here whenever he passed by Melaka during his travels in the area. The church has been in ruins for over 150 years. It was formerly a chapel named ‘Our Lady of the Hill’ by the Portuguese. When the Dutch wrestled Malacca from the Portuguese in 1641, they destroyed all the Portuguese buildings except for the fortress, on which they placed the Dutch emblem. The Dutch also took over the chapel, repaired and reconsecrated it into a Dutch Reformed Church, calling it St. Paul’s Church, a name which remains today. The Dutch used it for their worship for the next 112 years, until they built their own church at the foot of the hill, Christ Church. St. Paul’s Church was then abandoned.
2) Hang Li Poh’s well
The Hang Li Poh’s well was dug by an order of Sultan Mansor Shah of Melaka in 1459 especially for his wife Hang Li Poh, a Chinese princess. The water from this well was used for her daily needs only. It has never gone dry even during long periods of drought. In 1511, Malay warriors poisoned the water, causing the death of numerous Portuguese intrudors. The Dutch did the same in 1606, 1628 and -29 to eliminate their enemies. Later they realized the importance of the well and built a wall around it complete with canons and guardposts. However, during the British colonial period the well was neglected and it all fell into disrepair. The legend has it that if one were to drink from this well, then he/she will surely return to Melaka.
3) Dutch Square
Dutch Square is known for Christ Church and Stadthuys, however it has many other tourist attractions. The Fountain in the centre of the square is beautiful and surrounded by nice landscaping. Erected by the British during 1904 in memory of the late Queen Victoria. The fountain has four bas-relief images of the Queen’s face. All the buildings here wear a coat of maroon paint, giving the square a decidedly foreign feel not found anywhere else in Malaysia. Unlike popular perception, however, the buildings were not originally painted maroon as you see today. Instead they were faced with bricks. When the authorities discovered the brick façade leaks, they covered it with plaster and painted it white. Later, in the 1920s, the British changed the colour to a bright salmon red. The present local authorities darkened the colour further, so now the buildings have a maroon colour.