St. Paul's Church Ruins, Melaka
This church was originally a small chapel built by a Portuguese Captain called Duarto Coelho in 1521 A.D and called "Nosa Senhora - Our Lady of the Hill". The chapel was handed over to the "Society of Jesus" in 1548 and enlarged in 1556 with the addition of a second storey and renamed "Annuciation". A tower was added in 1590.
When the Dutch took over Melaka from the Portuguese, they changed its name to St. Paul's Church and used it for 112 years until their own church, The Christ Church was completed in 1753.
St. Paul's Church lost its tower when the British took over but had one new feature added - the lighthouse at the front. The British however did not use the church for worship, but used it instead for the storage of gunpowder.
Build by a Portuguese sea captain, the church was turned into a burial ground by the Dutch for their noble dead. The Statue of St Francis Xavier with cutted right hand is standing infront of the church.
From here we also can see the Malacca city till the beach...
St Paul's Church ruins keep carving stones of Dutch who used to govern Melaka. It is a good spot to look around Melaka and it is always crowded with visiting tourists. As these ruins reflect the colourful history of Melaka, it is worth a visit. Just behind the ruins, you can also visit the Dutch Graveyard.
After visiting the maritime museum we retraced our steps and climbed up St Paul's Hill to the ruins of St. Paul's Church. There are good views over Melaka from here.
St. Paul's Church started off as a small chapel called the Chapel of the Mother of God.
The Chapel of the Mother of God was originally built by a Portuguese administrator called Duarte Coelho. He built it to give thanks to God after his miraculous escape from a tempest in the South China Sea.
In 1548, the chapel was passed on to the Society of Jesus by the archbishop of Goa, Don Albuquerque. St Francis Xavier was given the title deeds on behalf of the Society.
The Dutch later took over the chapel. They reconsecrated it into a Dutch Reformed Church and called it St. Paul's Church. For the following 112 years the Dutch worshiped here, until they built Christ Church at the foot of the hill. St. Paul's Church was then abandoned.
When the British took over Malacca in 1824 the Church was used as a storehouse for British gun powder.
In front of the church there is a Statue of St. Francis Xavier. This was placed here in 1954. The statue is missing one arm which is ironic as St Francis Xavier's body was buried in Goa, but his arm removed and taken to Rome as a holy relic.
Inside the church there are many gravestones with interesting markings. When I arrived initially a tour group had just descended on the church. They were all posing for photos with the tombstones and it was pretty crowded and unpleasant. When they all left, I re-entered and had a look at the tombstones. They were written in Dutch but with translations provided. Many had lovely carvings.
There were no attendants looking after the church, but there were stall holders, buskers, a man carrying a cockatoo and a huge lizard and charging for photos with them. One guy who had made drawings of the tombstones started covering the stones with signs saying no-one could take photos of the stones, taking photos was stealing and instead they had to pay him for a picture. I deliberately took photos right in front of him as I was disgusted by him sticking things all over the grave stones and by his pathetic attempt to make money.
On the walk down the hill I visited the small Dutch cemetery, mercifully peaceful after the circus at the top of the hill. It is well worth visiting, but is nowadays way too touristy.
St. Paul's Church now lies in ruins on top of St. Paul's Hill. The hill itself was originally known as Malacca Hill before the church was built. It was renamed Monti Ali Maria, or Mary's Hill after the Portuguese took over. The church was originally a chapel called the Chapel of the Mother of God (Madre de Deus) or Our Lady of the Hill (Nossa Senhora do Oiteiro) and dates back to 1521.
In 1548, the chapel was passed on to the Society of Jesus by the archbishop of Goa, Don Albuquerque. Francis Xavier received the title deeds on behalf of the Society. In 1556, the Portuguese enlarged the chapel, adding a second storey to it. Further renovation was carried out in 1590 with the addition of a tower.
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.
When the British took over Malacca in 1824, St. Paul's Church had lost its tower. However, the British added a lighthouse in front of it and instead of using it as a place of worship, the Church became a convenient storehouse for British gun powder. Old Dutch and Portuguese tombstones can be found inside.
You will see it from the bottom, but when you climb to the top of St. Paul's Hill you will find the ruins of St. Paul's Church, once a chapel of the Portuguese Catholics called "Our Lady of the Hill" and was built by Portuguese Captain Duerte Coelho.
On the grounds of the church you will find many graves of Dutch noblemen, the tombstones have Latin and Portuguese inscriptions on them. The remains of St Francis Xavier was buried here briefly in 1553 before it was shipped back to India, what remain now is the plot of his grave inside the ruins of the church
St Paul's Church had some lovey gravestones inside with carvings of sailing ships or skulls and cross bones. I was pleased that there was an English translation of the Dutch writing on the tomb stones. There were also several tomb stones and a little Dutch cemetery as I walked down to the famous gate.
Built in 1521, being a catholic, this place is interesting to me especially when I’ve learned that a saint, St. Francis Xavier was buried here in 1553 before his body was transferred to Goa in India. Upon getting inside the church, surprisingly; I discovered that there were tombs with inscriptions arranged by groups, maybe by families.
Above A'Famosa is St. Paul's Ruins, which was once the main prayer house of Portuguese Catholics. It was built in 1521 by Portuguese captain, but now is in ruins.
Up the stairs you'll find a statue of St. Francis Xavier, a Portuguese missionary who died in 1552. This statue actually fell when a tree fell on it, and is still missing it's right hand. St. Francis Xavier was buried near here originally, but later moved to India.
The ruins of St. Paul's church stand at the summit of St. Paul's hill near the remains of A Famosa fortress. The site was originally occupied by the "Chapel of the Annunciation" built in 1521 by Duarte Coelho in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving his life in the South China sea. In 1548 the Archbishop of Goa in India handed over the church to the Jesuits, who proceeded to renovate it beginning in 1566. The present building was completed in 1590 and the tower on the right side of the sacristy was added in 1593.
The church is famous because it was here that the body of Francis Xavier, the pioneering Catholic missionary of Southeast Asia, was laid to rest for a period of eight months after his death at sea, beginning from March 22nd, 1553 to December 11th, 1553. The open grave in the church, now covered by a wire mesh, marks the place of Francis' temporary burial. Also of interest inside the church ruins are several gigantic colonial era grave markers laid against the walls.
From atop the hill, you have a wonderful birdseye view of the entire city as well as out into the straits.
From Bukit Saint Paul the view reaches out to the Straits of Melacca. It is here that stand the ruins of the ancient Portuguese fortress. Well, actually of Saint Paul's Church, for this is the only building that has remained of the entire complex.
This is the oldest church in town, built by the Portuguese on top of the hill, and is nowadays in a ruinous condition, but since it is consolidated, both the interior and the exterior can be visited.
It is said that Saint Francis Xavier's body was brought here to be buried for a certain time before it was taken to Goa, in India, where it rests today. That is the reason why there is a statue of him in front of the church.
we climbed up some steps from porta de santiago, passing some tombstones, and arrived to this place. it's up on a hill with view to the city.
the building of the church is still there, but no roof. inside we found more tombstones written in latin and dutch. i think it will be scary at nite.
It's quite a hike up the hill, especially in Melaka's suffocating humidity, but the view is very nice and the history is impressive. St. Francis Xavier visited here and his body buried here for a while before being transferred to Goa, India.
Of interest are the tombstones leaning up against the inner walls, written in Armenian and Dutch from the 16th century.
The Catholic church of St. Paul was built in 1521 and was the main church of the flourishing Portuguese stelling. When the Dutch conquered it in 1641, it became a Dutch Reformed church and continued to be use, until the Christ Church at stadhuys square was finished in 1753. Then, St. Paul's church was deconsecrated and used as a graveyard. The church building itself fell into decay and the situation did not become better when the British used it as a gundpowder storehouse. Next to the building itself, the Dutch 17th century gravestones are of interest. One of them is the gravestone of Maria van Riebeeck, wife of the famous founder of Cape Town. The statue of St. Francis Xavier was placed in front of the church in 1952 to commemorate his arrival in Melaka 400 years before. The day after the statue was unveiled, a tree fell on the statue cutting off his right hand. St. Francis Xavier's right hand was indeed cut off after his death to serve as a relic, but that happened centuries before...
The ruins of St. Paul’s Church are at the summit of St. Paul's Hill. It was built in 1521 on the site of the last Malaccan sultan’s istana (palace). It was constructed by Portuguese fidalgo (nobleman) captain, Duarte Coelho, in gratitude to the Virgin Mary for saving his life during a storm at sea. The Archbishop of Goa (India) turned over the church to the Jesuits in 1548. They moved the body of St. Francis Xavier in 1553 to Goa in 1556 added a second story which is still visible today. Between 1567 and 1596 the Portuguese garrison added gun turrets to the chapel and it became a fort as well. In 1590 a belfry tower was added the church was renamed the Igreja de Madre de Deus (Church of the Mother of God).
The Dutch invaded Malacca in 1641. St. Pauls was heavily damaged and the belfry tower was destroyed. The Dutch garrison repaired and reinforced the structure – turning it into an extension of the A’ Famosa Fort. The belfry tower was the only part not restored. They re-consecrated it as a Dutch Reformed Church and renamed it St. Paul’s Church and it was used as a Protestant church for about 112 years. When nearby Christ Church was completed in 1753, St. Pauls fell into disuse. When the British arrived in 1824 they added a lighthouse to replace the missing belfry and the complex became storehouse for gunpowder.
Today it is roofless and overgrown, but still has excellent views of Melaka and is very interesting to explore. The Feast of St. Francis Xavier is celebrated here by thousands of international pilgrims every year, on the Sunday nearest to 3rd December.