We found ourselves up hill continuing our walk from the Studthuys Square. We could feel the sea breeze coming in as we walk the hill. It was refreshing as it dampens the humidity a bit. From the hill we could see the parts of Malacca heading to the sea. I remember Marie telling us that most of the lands here were reclaimed. Originally, the sea shore reached up to the main road near the hill.
The replica of the Flora Del Mar, an old sunken ship that sank off the Strait of Malacca, pops out of the scene with its dark ship construction from the bluish back drop hues. The Eye of Malaysia can also be seen from a far like a large wheel rolling through town. We continued our way up the hill while appreciating the view and what awaits upstairs is what remains of the old St Paul’s Church.
A statue of St Francis Xavier greeted us when we got on top of the stairs. Behind him are the ruins of the St Paul’s Church. It used to be named “Our Lady of the Hill” or Nossa Senhora da Annunciada (Our Lady of Annunciation) and was constructed by Portuguese captain, Duarto Coelho, in 1521. The church became a fortress in 1567 until 1597. It was renamed St Paul after the Dutch siege and has then became their burial ground for them.
Now, only the walls remain of the church and some tombstones lay along the walls. Despite the hollowness of the church the space between the walls are filled with history. Marie narrated the supernatural side behind the Priest St Francis Xavier, who spend a great deal of time in Malacca in mid-1500s and was known to have preached for months at the Church now known as St. Paul. His life is filled with mysteries and miracles until he died at the age of 46.
Even after death, St Francis didn’t fail to intrigue us with another surprising story. Marie narrated that when people discovered the incorruptible body of Francis Xavier, they cut off his right hand to send to the Vatican for confirmation of his sainthood. When the hand reached Vatican, it was said that it moved by itself and wrote something on a piece of paper. I don’t know what was written but it’s a story straight out Adam’s family. On another incident in relation to cutting off his hand, there was a storm in Malacca that brought down a tree and accidentally cutting off the statue’s right hand as well. Whether this story was true or not, it does give an air of mystery at the place that only these walls who are silent witnesses can verify the truths.
We moved on going by the spine of the hill and descending to see what remains of the Portuguese fort A Famosa at Jalan Kota. Also known as Porta de Santiago, it was built in 1511 until it suffered a major damage during the Dutch invasion. Now, it is a very small structure like a giant thimble sticking out of the ground. It’s not bad looking but it’s a significant part of history. I guess I just didn’t like the presence of the vendors there or those touts asking if I’d like to have a picture to be taken with an iguana for RM 5. Why would I want a picture with that iguana?
Anyways it was an interesting site despite the modern canon displays around the fort. Speaking of Canons, they recently discovered a site where canons where stationed nearby. They found it during excavations when a mall was being built nearby. It’s a good thing they preserved it and there are probably more in the area. Another thing I really dislike about the place is the presence of the malls and blaring music at that time. But hey, I’ll just pretend it’s not there and remember St Paul’s Hills and Church instead.
Also there’s an important connection with Malacca when it comes to the Merdeka Celebration. It was here in Malacca where the proclamation of independence was signed before it was brought to Kuala Lumpur. A building called Proclamation of Independence Memorial Building now stands as an important memorial site for Merdeka. From there we proceed to our lunch and proceed to visit the interesting streets and temples of Malacca.
Ferdz Decena is an award-winning travel photographer, writer and blogger. His works has found print in publications such as Singapore Airlines’s Silver Kris, Philippine Airlines’ Mabuhay, Cebu Pacific’s Smile and Seair InFlight. He has also lent his expertise to various organizations like the Oceana Philippines, Lopez Group Foundation, Save the Children and World Vision, contributing quality images for their marketing materials.