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A Famosa Fortress (built 1511 onwards)

A Famosa, or "The Famous" in Portuguese, is one of the oldest surviving remnants of European architecture in Asia. Once part of a mighty fortress, this tiny gate (called the Porta de Santiago) is all that history has spared.

In 1511 a Portuguese fleet arrived under the command of Alfonso de Albequerque. His forces attacked and successfully defeated the armies of the native Sultanate. Moving quickly to consolidate his gains, Albequerque had the fortress built around a natural hill near the sea. Albequerque believed that Melaka would become an important port linking Portugal to the spice trade from China. At his 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's storage room, the residence of the captain, and an officers' quarters.

As the plan below shows, 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. Throughout this time, the walls of the fort repeatedly withstood large attacks by native elements.

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 Melaka from falling into the hands of Napoleon's expansionist France. The English, knowing that they would have to return the fort to the Dutch at the end of the Napoleonic wars, were determined to make the city as useless to the Dutch as possible. They planned to relocate the population and demolish the fort. This nearly happened, but Sir Stanford Raffles (the founder of Singapore) persuaded the English to let the residents remain and also prevented the total obliteration of the fort by convincing the English to let one gate remain for history's sake. It is quite possible that in doing this, Raffles spared the remaining historical monuments of Melaka as well.

Afamosa Plan

Above: Plan of the fortress from 1630. The Porta de Santiago is noted by the arrow


The approximate location of the gate is 2.191868' N, 102.250247' E (WGS 84 map datum).


All images 2005 Timothy M. Ciccone

Chin, Lim Bee. My Penang
  Lim Bee Chin, 2005. Malaysia

Khoo Joo Ee. The Straits Chinese: A Cultural History
  The Pepin Press, 1998. Amsterdam

Nyen, Robert Tan Sin. Historic Malacca Pot-pourri
  Aim Press Sdn Bhd., 1990. Melaka

Pintado, M.J. A Stroll Through Ancient Malacca
  Loh Printing Press (M) Sdh Bhd., 1978. Melaka

Shareen Corporate Communications Sdn Bhd. Melaka: The Historic City of Malaysia
  Malaysia Mining Corporation Berhad, 1992. Kuala Lumpur

Rowthorn, et. al. Lonely Planet: Malaysia, Singapore, and Brunei
  Lonely Planet Publications Ltd., 2001. Malaysia

Yeang, Ken. The Architecture of Malaysia
  The Pepin Press, 1992. Amsterdam

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someone posted on Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:15 am:

this is just copied exactly from wikipedia, sigh

harry styles posted on Tue Jun 03, 2014 12:14 am:

i guess I'll be visiting a famosa when im on my asia tour to singapore

rrineshaa posted on Fri Mar 28, 2014 9:44 am:

i like it........

yus posted on Fri Jan 17, 2014 10:20 pm:


Website: wsedrftgyh
me!! posted on Wed Oct 30, 2013 8:30 am:

hari posted on Mon Oct 14, 2013 12:02 am:


kelly posted on Sat Sep 21, 2013 9:09 am:

i like go tu A Famosa

Nyemah Mulya posted on Wed Dec 19, 2012 12:14 am:

Did you know that most of the original history hidden by their ancestors? Did you how hurt it is if you know the whole story of how this invasion happened? Read more books and you'll see this fortress differently.

broken english posted on Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:21 am:

is "sir stamford raffles" nerd.

copy posted on Mon Jun 06, 2011 10:11 am:

maybe orginal or copied

zahoor khan posted on Mon Dec 06, 2010 3:09 am:

gud afternoon mam plz if anything plz reply me

Website: the a formosa fortress
zuzen posted on Thu Aug 06, 2009 11:50 pm:

maklumat yang ader bagus tp sikit sangat, x cukup untuk kajian yang tengah nak buat nie. but anyaway thks for info.

d. eb posted on Thu Jun 18, 2009 3:12 am:

does anyone know the address to the a famosa fortress?

Jass posted on Thu Jun 04, 2009 9:10 pm:

Thx 4 your photo. It's very nice. I like it.

scorpio girl posted on Thu May 21, 2009 11:08 pm:

I need more information..pease add more for the convinience of others who are in need of these kind of information..thanx!!!!

me pro no noob94 posted on Mon May 11, 2009 8:51 am:

the information is too little!!!!!XD ,i dont like it!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

SUMI posted on Sun May 03, 2009 1:55 pm:

wht is tis

shahira posted on Sun May 03, 2009 9:33 am:

thank you so much for your attention..its okay Mr. Timothy Ciccone..I already got the information from another website..well dont worry i will still surf to this website..

unbeknownst posted on Mon Apr 20, 2009 1:48 am:

thanks for taking your time to look for details and reply our comments..:D

sharifah posted on Sun Apr 19, 2009 9:31 pm:

A famosa, berapa keluasannnya? penting sebab tengah buat research untuk sekolah. juga kenapa tak banyak dibicarakan tentang Portugese Settlement id Melaka dan pengaruh yang tekah mereka buat kepada Melaka? Boleh tolong? Terilma kasih

XX posted on Sat Apr 18, 2009 2:57 am:


Moderator replied on Sat Apr 18, 2009 8:53 am: 
Thanks for the comments. I've looked, but we do not have any more information readily available beyond what's posted here. Sorry I cannot help further. Timothy Ciccone, editor.
me again posted on Sat Apr 11, 2009 12:02 pm:

i saw that some has change..but when did u will reply OUR m***age????????? ps.:plz reply our m***age we are realy need it..

shahira posted on Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:52 am:

hey,y all the question is just the same huh?do all of u want to find it for FOLIO SEJARAH PMR too?????

unbeknownst posted on Mon Mar 30, 2009 7:32 am:

may i know the architecture, inner deco, and materials used to create the spectacular fortress? or does these pieces of info remain a mystery and can't be found in any other website?? pls, this is really crucial info i need, and it would do wonders if you could post-up links leading to the information needed. Your cooperation is well received and the facts above are appreciated. pls reply soon

shahira posted on Sat Mar 28, 2009 3:23 am:

I am agree with kah yan question..hows the decorate in the Porta de Santiago???

shahira posted on Sat Mar 28, 2009 3:18 am:

what A Famosa made of??I want to know about..this is for my school ***ignment..I heard that it is made of mosque and castle..but I dont have any proof of the I hope there anyone can tell me where can i find it.BTW the jurnal has gave me more information about A Famosa.

kah yan posted on Mon Mar 16, 2009 8:44 am:

hows the decorate in the A Famosa?

asnawi posted on Sun Mar 15, 2009 10:13 pm:

i need A FAMOSA building