A Famosa


A Famosa

A Famosa ("Malay language": "Kota A Famosa"), or "The Famous" in Portuguese, is a fortress located in Malacca, Malaysia. It is among the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Asia. Only a tiny gate (called the Porta de Santiago) is all that is left of a once-mighty fortress.

The name is often mispronounced as /"eɪ"/ "Famosa", even among Malaysians (as though the Portuguese definite article "a" were the letter "A" in the English alphabet). A more accurate pronunciation would be /"/ "Famosa" (approximating 'ah').

History

In 1511 a Portuguese fleet arrived under the command of Alfonso de Albuquerque. His forces attacked and successfully defeated the armies of the Malacca Sultanate. Moving quickly to consolidate his gains, Albuquerque had the fortress built around a natural hill near the sea. Albuquerque believed that Melaka would become an important port linking Portugal to the spice trade from China. At 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 fortress once consisted of long ramparts and four major towers. One was a four-story keep, while the others held an ammunition storage room, the residence of the captain, and an officers' quarters. Most of the village clustered in town houses inside the fortress walls. As Melaka's population expanded it outgrew the original fort and extensions were added around 1586. The fort changed hands in 1641 when the Dutch successfully drove the Portuguese out of Melaka. The Dutch renovated the gate in 1670, which explains the logo "ANNO 1670" inscribed on the gate's arch. Above the arch is a bas-relief logo of the Dutch East India Company.

The fortress changed hands again in the early 19th century when the Dutch handed it over to the British to prevent it from falling into the hands of Napoleon's expansionist France. The English were wary of maintaining the fortification and ordered its destruction in 1806. The fort was almost totally demolished but for the timely intervention of Sir Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, who happened to visit Melaka in 1810. Because of his passion for history, this small gate was spared from destruction.

Archaeological finding

In late November 2006, a structure part of the fort, believed to be the Middelsburgh Bastion was accidentally uncovered during the construction of 110 meter revolving tower in Malacca Town. [Lee, Cynthia. New Straits Times. [http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/nst/Friday/NewsBreak/20061201192448/Article/index_html Excavation for Malacca tower project unearths ruins of Dutch fort] . December 1 2006] The construction of the tower has been postponed indefinitely following the discovery. [The Star. [http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/12/4/nation/16216184&sec=nation Ancient wall stays, tower goes] . December 4 2006.] Malacca Museums Corporation suspects the structure was built by the Dutch during the Dutch occupation of Malacca from 1641 to 1824. [Lee, Cynthia. New Straits Times. [http://www.nst.com.my/Current_News/nst/Friday/NewsBreak/20061201192448/Article/index_html Excavation for Malacca tower project unearths ruins of Dutch fort] . December 1 2006]

Earlier in June 2003, a watchtower named Santiago Bastion was discovered during the construction of Dataran Pahlawan. [The Star. [http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2006/12/4/nation/16216405&sec=nation Old watchtower may be under site] . December 4 2006.]

References

External links

* [http://allmalaysia.info/news/attraction.asp?id=590&pt=7 A Famosa at All Malaysia.info]
* [http://courses.nus.edu.sg/course/ellhpj/resources/abdullah3.HTM Description of the fort during English rules by "Hikayat Abdullah".]


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