What You Don’t Know About Malacca Town
The area in Malacca Town has several top tourist attractions such as Dutch Square, Christ Church, Stadthuys, Clock Tower, St Paul’s Church and A’ Farmosa. We will be exploring them one by one.
This is where the locals call ‘the red square’. The first thing that will catch one’s eye is the bright red paint on the buildings around Dutch Square. Contrary to popular belief, the Dutch did not paint this place red. In fact, the buildings were actually built with open-faced bricks, but the bricks began leaking, so the Dutch covered them with plaster and painted them white. Later, the British painted them bright salmon pink, and now the Malacca town council painted them with the red.
But theories still abound as to why the place is painted red. Some are pretty amusing. One says that they were painted red to copy the red brick stone houses in Holland because the Dutch missed their homeland. Another says that the British wanted to separate British buildings from Dutch buildings, so they painted them red. Yet another was that the locals hated the colonial Dutch and pelted the building with betel nut, which discharged red juices, so the building had to be covered in red paint.
Whatever the origin is, the red colour attracts many young newly wed Chinese couples in Malaysia who use the Dutch Square as a background for their wedding photos. In Chinese culture, red symbolizes prosperity.
All around, there are plenty of colourful trishaws, making the entire place lively and bustling.
The fountain nearby is the Queen Victoria Fountain, built by the British in 1901 to commemorate the Diamond Jubilee. Walk around it and one will even see a carving of the queen.
Christ Church, the imposing red building right in Malacca Town is the oldest Protestant church in Malaysia. It is also the oldest surviving Dutch church built outside the Netherlands.
It was completed in 1753 after 12 years of construction. The church uses conventional Dutch church architecture; a rectangular plan, massive walls, red granite blocks, and Dutch roof tiles. The bricks are specially imported from Zeeland, a province in the Netherlands. The church was built to commemorate Dutch rule in Malacca as well as to provide a place of worship for the Dutch. In fact, the road where Christ Church stands is called Jalan Gereja or Church Street.
One will not miss the striking white cross and the bell on the top of the church. The bell and weathercock were actually added by the British after they took over Malacca temporarily from the Dutch. But there is an unusual fact about the bell- the inscription dates back to 1698, 55 years before this church was built, suggesting that it could have been used for other purposes before it was hung here on top of the church.
Inside Christ Church, look out for the handmade pews that date back more than 200 years. Don’t miss the huge overhead beams holding up the roof; they were actually cut from a single tree and have no joints. On the walls, you will also see some decorative fanlights and plaques to remember those who have died in this tropical country. The strange thing about these plaques is that they are Catholic in nature but placed inside a Protestant church. Historians think that the highly religious Dutch could not have done that, and speculate that they could have been installed there by the British instead. There is a wooden plaque to commemorate local planters who died during the World War Two, many with Armenian inscriptions. Two of them read: “Greetings! you who are reading this tablet of my tomb in which I now sleep. Give me the news, the freedom of my countrymen, for them I did much weep. If there arose among them one good guardian to govern and keep, vainly I expected the world to see a good shepherd come to look after the scattered sheep.”
Another reads: “I, Jacob, grandson of Shamier, an Armenian of a respectable family whose name I keep, was born in Persia near Inefa, where my parents now forever sleep. Fortune brought …