MALAYSIA | Marooned at the Melaka Dutch Square | Lakad Pilipinas

Dutch Square Melaka Tour

We were exhausted.

Coming from three breakfast meals (first on our hotel, The Imperial Heritage Melaka, the second at the Chung Hwa’s Chicken Rice Ball and the last at Hassan’s Mee Goreng), you’d think we’d have more energy for walking around Melaka’s narrow streets and ogling at all the well-preserved colonial houses in the area than an Energizer Bunny with a camera.

But no.

The heat in Melaka is quite unbearable during the summer, draining us of our morning meals faster than we can type Dutch Square on our Google Maps-enabled phones.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
JALAN LAKSAMANA, OUR INTRODUCTION TO MELAKA’S COLOR

Coming straight from the massive KLIA II by bus, the first thing that indicated we were finally at the UNESCO World Heritage City of Melaka was not a sign, but the light maroon-colored colonial buildings lining both sides of Jalan Laksamana. It leads directly towards Melaka’s Dutch Square, dubbed by some as the Red Square, not because it resembles anything from Moscow, but literally due to the buildings’ paint job.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
AND THERE’S A WINDMILL!

We passed the famed square a couple of times as we zigzagged our way to our morning street eats, but it took us hours before we finally stepped on its bricked grounds. After shopping our way through Jonker Street and crossing the Melaka River (where we had a cruise the previous night), a windmill told us we were finally on Dutch grounds.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
DUTCH SQUARE MELAKA IS A CROSSROAD

Melaka’s Dutch Square is a small parcel of land situated on a crossroad; it’s where Jalan Hang Jebat (Jonker Walk), Jalan Gereja and Jalan Laksamana all converges. On this little square, a central fountain constructed during 1904, fashioned in Victorian styles, is surrounded by some of the oldest structures in the province.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
A LOCAL REPAIRING SOMETHING IN HIS SHOP

There’s Malaysia’s oldest Protestant church, the iconic Christ Church, the Youth Museum & Art Gallery which was built in 1784 as the Dutch Administrative Office, the Tang Beng Swee Clocktower, which was not built by the Dutch but rather by an affluent Chinese family during 1886, and finally the Stadthuys, which the square is sometimes referred to as—its literal meaning, the town hall.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
THE ONLY THING THE DUTCH DIDN’T CONSTRUCT

And yes, everything is painted in shockingly gaudy maroon. In my mind, I was debating if the Dutch were really into such colors, having seen none of it on my brief trip in the Netherlands some years back.

And what exactly were the Dutch doing here anyways?

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
MELAKA’S GOTHIC CHURCH, NOT PAINTED IN MAROON

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
DISNEYLANDISH TRISHAWS CAN BE RENTED ALONG THE DUTCH SQUARE

Spices, as all in life are, is of course the answer.

During the days when spices were all the rage in the world, the Dutch decided to take Melaka from the Portuguese to use it as their trading point. They stayed here for 183 years and painted all the buildings in maroon.

That last one was a joke, of course.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
THE SQUARE AS VIEWED ACROSS MELAKA RIVER

During those days, these buildings—which were in reality made from bricks—were actually painted white. It wasn’t until the British took the reigns that the governor decided that red looks better. So the walls were transformed into bloody red, as the English would’ve called it.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
EVERYTHING IS IN MAROON!

But that’s not the end of it. The Malays, of course, has the final say in the matter, they own this land anyways. I guess they thought that the color red was much too strong for taste, so they tone it down a bit and came up with the light maroon color that we now see.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
THE OLDEST DUTCH BUILDING OF THEM ALL

The two most visited building in Melaka Square are the Stadthuys and the Christ Church. While we weren’t able to visit the Stadthuys much, a building built during 1660 and considered to be the oldest Dutch building still standing this side of Asia; we were able to enter Christ Church.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
THE FAMOUS CHRIST CHURCH

This oddly-colored church is probably what all tourists (travelers avoid famous places like these like the plague, har har) picture in their mind’s eye whenever one mentions Melaka. Christ Church is indeed iconic. I’ve seen only one church, and we have tons and tons of it in the Philippines, that almost has the same color.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
DUTCH TOMBSTONES ON THE CHURCH’S FLOOR

Built in 1753, its actually a reminder how the Dutch rutted out the Portuguese in Melaka. To drive home the point, they even built it over a Portuguese church, which fortunately already lay in ruins. Like most structures around the Dutch Square, you’d hardly know that it was actually made from bricks, these particular ones, shipped all the way from Zeeland in the Netherlands.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
CHRIST CHURCH’S UNREMARKABLE INTERIOR

Once inside, you’d hardly be impressed unless you know what you’re looking for. It is as plane as Jane. Christ Church’s claim to fame though are its 200-year old hand-carved pews and its 15-meter long roof beams—each one made from a single tree trunk.

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
MELAKA’S ARCHITECTURE MUSEUM

Dutch Square Melaka Tour
ONE OF THE LIFE-SIZED DIORAMAS INSIDE THE MUSEUM

Most of the structures around the Melaka Dutch Square have been turned into museums. They have an Islamic Museum, an Architecture Museum, a Peoples Museum, a History & Ethnography Museum. Think of a museum, they probably have it (joking). It’s too bad that we were only able to check out the Architecture Museum since a.) we really didn’t have much time, b.) it was conveniently located right along the street en route to our hotel, and c.) it was free of charge and we thought it has air-conditioning.

Oh let’s not kid ourselves. It was probably just c.).


Dutch Square Melaka Location Map

Melaka Dutch Square (Red Square)
Address: Jalan Kota - Jalan Gereja, Melaka, Malaysia
Contact Number: +606-2836538
Hotels Near Dutch Square: Click Here

GPS Coordinates Map: 2.194341, 102.249073


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Posted by Christian Sangoyo on Tuesday, July 14, 2015

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