Portuguese conquered Melaka they demolished the city and its unique
architecture (Moore 2004). They destroyed mosques and king’s palace to use the
materials for church and new buildings (Zakaria 1994). Moreover, the Portuguese
restricted Islamic practices and caused an irreversible harm to Melaka’s
indigenous architecture. Melaka still possesses a number of vernacular mosques,
which were erected thenceforth the 18th century, inspired by Austronesian,
Hindu-Buddhist, Chinese, Portuguese, Dutch, and British cultural and
architectural heritage. Notably, Chinese influence is exceptionally strong on
the vernacular style, distinguishing the Melaka vernacular mosques from other
Southeast Asian vernacular mosques (Armani 2014).


Portuguese Melaka ( 1511 – 1641 )

At the turn of
the 17th century, many European countries including the Portuguese
started to explore southeast Asia in hoped of searching for fundamental materials
for weapons, spices and mainly for expanding trade. In this era, Melaka was
known as the wall-coasted city after the Portuguese successfully conquered the
city in 1511. The captain of the ship, Alfonso de Albuquerque built a fortress
famously known as A famosa today for protection and to increase the defense
line of Melaka against future foreign enemy. The conquest of the Portuguese
brought a huge impact in the urban formation of the city and it too marked the
beginning of European disturbance in Malaya. They destroyed the city and many
of its architecture in order to obtain materials to build churches and new
buildings. The Portuguese’s rigorous rule restricted many Islamic practices
leading to significant damages to Melaka’s traditional architecture such as
mosques. However, the Portuguese successfully built up Melaka as an
administrative centre and many new schools and churches were built for the people.
Eventually, a Portuguese city was formed, leading to the emergence of an European-Asian
community in the southeast Asia.

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·       A famosa

The fortress was built from 1511 to
1512 by the Portuguese. Today only one of the gateway, Porta de Santiago of
historical most famous fort remains in the centre of Melaka Town. Making it one
of the oldest remaining European architecture in Asia all of history has spared.
A famosa was built around a natural hill near the sea constructing with 4 major
towers. The principle behind constructing the main defences was modern and
efficient by having angling walls similar to the theory of the “bastioned trace”,
a system of fabrication which first appeared at Verona in Italy in 1530. The fortress
had undergone continuous preservation and improvements during the Portuguese colonial
period. In 1641, the Dutch took over Melaka and renovated the gate in 1670. This
explains the appearance of “ANNO 1670” inscribed on the gate’s arch. However during
the British colonial period, the fortress was demolished leaving only the gatehouse
behind. Because of this A famosa is one of the most significant artefact exist
in Melaka that had witnessed the changes of colonial eras through the centuries.


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