As I have mentioned in my previous post, staying around the Jonker Street is a big advantage, not only because they have lots of budget hotels/hostels, but also because it is located not so far from the tourist attractions. One of the most famous ones is Malacca Museum Complex comprising St.Paul’s church, Stadthuys, Christ Church and around five others museums, such as the Museum of Stamp and the Museum of UMNO (one of the biggest political party in Malaysia).
Some of them are free, but some require a donation. No worries though, you don’t need to break your piggy bank just to pay the entrance fee of those museums. Most of them cost only about 10 RM to 20 RM.
ENTRANCE FEE: Seems free, I didn’t go inside.
Christ Church was built by the Dutch and is now renowned as the oldest functioning Protestant Church in Malacca.
Before completing the building of this church, the Dutch used St. Paul’s Church as their chapel, which was known as Bovenkerk (upper church) due to its location on top of the hill. Christ Church which was originally painted in white, and got its terracotta color in 1911.
ENTRANCE FEE: 10 RM (adult foreigner).
Stadthuys (Dutch: stadt = city, huys = hall/house). Actually, it is huis - not huys. But let it be, let’s not argue about it. From my own amateur translation, I suddenly understand that it was the administration office in the Dutch Era. Right after the transition of power from Dutch to British, this city hall was transformed into a Malacca Free School, where some missionaries residing in this state took part in it as teachers.
Now, this building has been converted into a museum displaying artifacts, weapons, and traditional costumes related to the history of the three main powers in the past. This museum was nothing to shout about; it’s just an ordinary museum where you will find short descriptions and long explanations about the things displayed there. Having said that, I don’t think it will be a waste of your time or money just to give them a short visit. My buddy and I were almost trapped in the museum as we were enjoying too much strolling around from one room to another, forgetting that it closed at 5pm.
In the Dutch section, you will learn a chunk of history of the VOC and the Dutch culture as well.
St. Paul's Church
ENTRANCE FEE: FREE.
According to its name, we might just guess that this chapel was built by the British. Erm... actually, no. The chapel, which was dedicated to the Virgin Mary, was erected in 1521 by a Portuguese nobleman, Duarte Coelho, as an act of gratitude after his successful escape from a storm in the South China Sea. In 1556 the building was officially enlarged by adding the second floor and a belfry tower, also it was renamed the Igreja de Madre de Deus (The Church of the Mother of God).
After the Dutch conquered Malacca and the Portuguese were no longer staying there, the Dutch decided to use this chapel and reform it until the new church (Christ Church) was completed.
I really like the chapel. What I didn’t like was the way to the chapel - we needed to go up to the top of the hill. Yes, it is located on the St. Paul’s Hill; the entrance can be found between the Stadthuys and other museums (I forgot which one). That is the entrance, but you can also hike from behind the A Famosa and climb down from the other side. It’s your choice!
The chapel is stunning. Right in front of the building, dominated by white, you will find a statue of St. Francis Xavier. While at the same time you can find some old Portuguese tombstones along the wall.
A Famosa Fort
ENTRANCE FREE: FREE.
An old fort built by the Portuguese, heralded as the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Southeast Asia. Although now all that is left from the grandiose fort of the past is just the gate itself, A famosa still stands as if it is ready to safeguard the people inside.
From the stairs behind this fort, you can go up right to St.Paul’s Cathedral and go down from the other side.
Other Museums in Malacca
Unfortunately, I didn’t have the chance to visit other museums in the complex - not because they are not worth visiting, just because we are budget travellers with limited money. But we visited one of the other museums, which is located a stone’s throw away from this complex.
ENTRANCE FEE: 20 RM.
The location of the museum is undoubtedly strategic, especially for the tourist who likes to shop. It is situated right opposite the Medan Samudera - handicraft and local products building. While behind it, an open view to the river of Malacca. The one and only reason behind our decision to give this museum a visit was the shape. Different from other museums whose buildings are ‘ordinary’, the Maritime Museums offer a real feeling that you are one of the sailors - a ship. So, yes, you must climb the ladders, made from wood, which was a bit horrifying as the size was too ‘fit’ for our princess feet and I was afraid that it couldn’t endure our super model body size.
The museum is divided into three section: a captain’s room, a hull, and a pavilion.
To get into the hull, you need to climb down a bit through the wooden stairs, where at the same time you will find a projector showing the history of Malay’s maritime world. You are free to stay to watch it or you can go forward, exploring the displays inside: some statues of the most famous laksamana, miniature of the ship’s model along with its explanations and descriptions, a room for prisoners, and other things related to seafaring.
The captain’s room is just a room for the captain where you can pretend to be him and control your fleet. The last one: pavilion - a perfect spot to take a selfie.
Some tips for exploring Malacca