A' Famosa, Melaka
I can't better the historical context others have provided, so one tip:
There was a different musical act performing inside the fort tower each time I visited - I don't know if this is a regular occurrence, but could be worth checking out. Especially as it's free to go.
This fort named, Kota A Famosa in Malay, translates simply as "The Famous" in Portuguese. Originally named Porta de Santiago, only a small gate house remains visible. It has a long and interesting story to tell. In 1511 Afonso de Albuquerque landed here with a Portuguese fleet and defeated the Sultan of Malacca. He chose the site of this fortress atop a natural hill near the water with excellent viewpoints of both land and sea. Today A’ Famosa is a simply a reconstruction of a watchtower on top of the unearthed remains of a once substantial fortification. In its heyday it consisted of 4 long ramparts (walls) and 4 major towers. Inside the walls were a four-story keep, an ammunition store, 5 churches and residential houses for the colonists. Malacca's population outgrew the original walls and they were extended in 1586.
The Dutch invaded and took all of Melaka in 1641. They restored the gate present today in 1670, which is why "ANNO 1670" is inscribed on the arch. Above this is the carved insignia of the Dutch East India Company. The letters 'VOC' is the abbreviation of Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie.
In 1824 the Dutch handed it over to a British garrison to prevent it from falling into the hands of Napoleon's forces. The new owners decided to begin demolition of the fort to save costs in 1806. In 1810 the founder of Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles, visited Malacca and requested that the gate be spared from destruction in the interests of history.
Virtually the entire fortifications were either demolished and/or buried for over 150 years. In June 2003 the fortress began to be rediscovered. During construction of a new structure, workers discovered a watchtower named Santiago Bastion. In November 2006 work started on a planned revolving 100 meter tower. During the excavation they discovered the Middelsburgh Bastion, probably built by the Dutch, and the tower was constructed on a different site in Melaka.
A’Famosa is one of the oldest surviving European architectural relics in Asia. It is located downhill from St. Paul’s Church, which itself was built atop the original Sultan of Melaka’s fortress.
A Famosa (or The Famous in portuguese) is one of the remnants of Portuguese History of Melaka. Together with St. Paul's Hills, they are the remains of the portuguese legacy of the portuguese occupation of Melaka starting from 1511 to 1641 AD.
The only two Remains of the A Famosa Fortress lies on both ends of the Jalan Kota Road, the first is the Kotal Melaka (or MIddleburg Bastion, beside the Melaka Tourism Center) and near the Dataran Merdeka (independene square) and which is now called Porta De Santiago as it was only the gate that was remaining when the british destroyed the fortress in the 1840's as the timely intervention of Sir Henry Stanford Raffles, saved the remaining gate from being destroyed.
The history of A Famosa Fortress started in 1511 AD, after Melaka was conquered by the portuguese admiral Alfonso De Alburquerque, who believed that Melaka would become an important port linking Portugal to the spice trade from China because during 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 A Famosa fortress once consisted of long ramparts and four major towers encircling St Paul's Hill and the now area of Bandar Hilir. One Tower was a four-story keep, while the others held an ammunition's storage room, the residence of the captain, and an officers' quarters. When the Dutch attacked and conqured Melaka in 1641 after a 5 month siege, they renovated the fortress and also the Porta De Santiago Gate, that is why there was an ANNO 1670 sign at the Arch.
When the dutch gave Melaka temporarily to the British in 1825 to prevent it from falling to Napeolonic France, the british decided to destroy the fort and also Melaka, to prevent the dutch from making it a major trading port again (as they have singapore and penang as port cities) when they would return it to the Dutch (but it never happened as they annexed Melaka) and again Melakans have to thank Sir Stamford Raffles for it.
Porta de Santiago Fortress was built by the Portuguese, under the command of Afonso de Albuquerque, in 1511. They had attacked Melaka and overthrown the sultan who fled to Johor. They built the fortress as a defensive structure.
At its height the fortress was made up of several long ramparts and four major towers. Most of the village of Melaka was located inside the fortress walls. As the population grew extensions had to be added to the fortress in around 1586.
In 1641 the Dutch drove the Portuguese out of Melaka.The Dutch renovated the fortress gate in 1670, adding the logo ANNO 1670 and a bas-relief logo of the Dutch East India Company to the gate's archway.
In 1806 the fortress was given by the Dutch to the British when Holland was invaded by France. The British were fearful that the Dutch may try to reclaim Melaka and began destroying the fortress. The fortress would have been totally destroyed but for the intervention of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of modern Singapore, who visited Melaka in 1810. He persuaded the British to stop the destruction and preserve the remains of the fort. He was able to save this beautiful gateway.
When we visited there was a busker inside playing guitar and a cute little boy with a toy guitar playing next to him. There were several cannons arranged around the gate. Lots of people were having their photos taken with the remains including two very cute little girls all done up in their finest dresses. There were flower festooned trishaws all around.
St. Paul's Hill is the highest elevation in Melaka's city centre and the location of the former Portuguese fort called "A Famosa" (The Famous). The fort was part of a system of Portuguese trading points established in the 15th and 16th century. The Dutch continued to use it until the Napoleonic wars when they handed over the fort to the British Empire. To prevent the French from conquering the fort, the British ordered it to be destroyed, but due to intervention of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, a small gatehouse was preserved. This gatehouse is known as Porta de Santiago and has many inscriptions from the Portuguese and Dutch era. Ruins of other structures were found during excavations on the site in the early 2000s. St. Paul's church is described in a separate tip.
The history of the A' Famosa (just to the right of the marker) dates back to 1511 when Alfonso de Albuquerque and the Portuguese fleet under his command arrived at Malacca. He soon built a fortress to defend what he had taken from the locals. What we can now see is only one of altogether four towers connected with a high wall. Each of the towers had a special purpose: one for the captain's residence, one for the officers, one to store the ammunition and the last one a keep for the guards.
In the 17th century the fortress was handed over to the Dutch as they came into power in the region, and later it was also handed over to the British. They decided to destroy the fortress and they almost did, but Sir Stamford Raffles managed to save a little part of it.
A' Famosa is also known as Porta de Santiago.
Some of the cannon which can be seen, the greenish ones, are original whereas the others are replicas.
"You can’t say you have been to Malacca if you haven't visited the A' Famosa."
On St Paul's hill you can step back in time to the Portuguese rule. A Formosa is the fort that looks onto the river. Today only the church and the Santiago gate remain standing, after the British blew the rest up. It's a nice place to walk around to understand the history of Melaka.
The A'Fomasa fortress included a large area within the fortifications. The photo of the notice detailing the plan of the original fortification lists many of the historic buildings and ruins which remain today.
Built by the Portuguese as a fortress in 1511 and partly demolished by the Dutch during 1810. Also known as Porta De Santiago.
The arch contains the inscription "VOC" of the Dutch East India Company. The Dutch took control during 1670 and used part of the fort.
Our visit was limited to 10 minutes which I thought was sufficient time. History Buffs most likely would appreciate more time.
When the Portuguese arrived at the shores of Melaka, the first thing they did was build a fort overlooking the river, which they named A Famosa. The A Famosa is one of the oldest examples of European Architecture present in Southeast Asia.
Throughout the Portuguese rule, the fort was critical to their foothold of the island because the town was constantly under threats from other foreign powers, namely the British and Dutch. The fort was also instrumental in maintaining the Portuguese stronghold across the Far East. It consisted of housing and food stores, a castle, a meeting room for the Portuguese Council and five churches.
In the late 17th century, Malacca came under attack by the Dutch and was significantly damaged, leaving only the entrance façade and the structure of a church at the top of the hill. In the early 19th century, the fortress was taken over by the British who decided to destroy it. This destruction came about in the year 1806; all was demolished expect for a small part, what is found today, the last bit of the once active and important fortress.
Take a stroll up St. Paul’s Hill (the steps are not as intimidating as they look and there is plenty of room to stop and rest) and walk around what is left of the great fort. It is better if you head up after 3 pm when the sun is less hot and the sea breeze begins.
Porta de Santiago, or Gate of St. James, is the sole remaining gateway into the former fortress, known as A Famosa, built by the Portuguese when they conquered Malacca in 1511. Immediately after Malacca fell, they used forced labour to build a temporary fort to counter Malay attacks, while they worked on the main fort, which they nicknamed "A Famosa", or officially, the Fortaleza de Malaca, or the Fortress of Malacca. By 1583, Malacca had become a fortified city protected by seventy canons aimed in all directions.
The fortress was so well built that it helped the Portuguese ward off all forms of attacks. In order to capture Malacca, the Dutch laid siege around the fortress for five months with the help of Johor, while Malaccas citizens, trapped inside, were reduced to eating cats, rats, plus there was a case of a women eating her dead infant. Finally, on 14th January 1641, the Dutch stormed into the fort. The Dutch repaired and renovated the fort and placed their coat of arms above the gates. This can still be seen today at Porta de Santiago, the remaining gate, with the inscription "Anno 1670".
Santiago Bastion was part of Malacca's fortress remains built by the Portuguese after conquering the Malacca Malay Sultanate in 1511. The fortress was then consolidated by the Dutch in 1641 but was destroyed by the British under the leadership of William Farquhar in 1807. However, this part of the bastion of the fort was found in 2002 when excavations were down during the construction of the underground Dataran Pahlawan Melaka Megamall. The site was formerly the shore but was bounded by the sea wall embankment constructed by the British in the early 19th century. It was then turned into a land fill in the 1930s.
A Famosa part of Melaka Heritage Walk is one of the oldest architecture in Melaka. It was built by Portuguese. It is a must visit place while you are in Melaka and located right in the center of the city. Near to Malacca Sultanate Palace and Dataran Pahalwan Mega Mall.
This prominet landmark synonymous with Melaka, was a fortress built bt the Portuguese admiral. Alfonso d' Albuquerque in 1511. It was badly damaged during the Dutch invasion in 1941. Timely intervention by Sir Stamford Raffles, a British offical, in 1808 saved what remains of the A'Famosa today.
The Porta de Santiago is one of the four main gates of A Famosa fortress; it was built by the Portuguese in 1512 under the command of Alfonso de Albuquerque.
It expanded to the surrounding area which includes Jalan Kota, Jalan Gereja, Jalan Mahkamah and Jalan Istana. The Portuguese turned this fort into a Christian city.
It was damage during the Dutch invasion but later repaired and renamed it VOC. The British wanted to destroy it but Sir Stamford Raffles intervene in 1808 and saved what remains of A' Famosa today. What’s left is a gateway called Porta de Santiago with an embossed 'VOC' emblem.