Friday, July 10, 2009

A Famosa Fortress or Porta de Santiago - A must visit

Similar to the Dutch Square, A Famosa is definately a must visit as is one of the most famous historical landmark in Melaka.

A Famosa Fort or also known as Porta de Santiago was built by the Portuguese in 1512 under the direction of Alfonso de Albuquerque. The name A Famosa means famous in Portuguese and it remains true till this day as it is still the most well known and biggest fort once built by the Portuguese in history. Originally, the function of the fort is to fense off the attack from Sultan Melaka (Sultan Mahmud) armies and also from Acheh empire.

However, the one that you can see today is only the remains of one of the four main gates of the fort. As Melaka experience various change of colonial powers (Portuguese, Dutch, British), the fort also undergone different stage due to this. Here's the story...

In 1641, after more than a century, Melaka was then took over by the Dutch (Dutch East Indian Company). The Dutch kept the fort, renovated and rebuilt it for their own use.

Years later, during the reformation in Europe, King William of Orange from the Netherlands handed over Melaka and other Dutch territories to British on a temporary term agreement. It was done to avoid these territories from being taken over by the French colonizer Nepoleon. However, the British too had the intention of keeping Melaka for themselves. Therefore, in 1795, before the temporary agreement came to the end, Captain William Farquhar ordered to destroy the fort to break down the Dutch defence.

The task of demolishing the fort was not easy as it initially thought. Using human strength of slaves and labourers to manually taking it down was not sufficient. Therefore, he then ordered gun powder and cannon to blast it all down. Luckily, if not for Sir Stamford Raffles and Lord Minto efforts to stop this devastation, there will not be any remains of the fort left in Melaka today.

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