Sunday, August 12, 2018

Ruins of Saint Paul's Church on St Paul's Hill @ Melaka [Malaysia]

The Santiago Gate was just a prelude of more to come as i ascended Saint Paul's Hill which was also known by a few names over the centuries; Bukit Melaka and Flag Hill (not to be confused with the one from Penang).

Before climbing up the stairs, i thought it's worthwhile to check out the information panels detailing the history of Melaka, including the change in hands from the Portuguese to the Dutch and then to the British before Malaysia gained independence.

My objective was the structure on top of the hill; the disused St. Paul's Church!

Aside from the occasional harmless tombs, you can also find vendors hawking essential cold, bottled water, fans and even binoculars along the way.

Fancy painting to adorn your plain walls? The above, costing from RM 10 to RM 50, might just do the job! I was tempted as i had too many white walls in my house which would definitely benefit from some colours.

The gate on the right leads to the Dutch Graveyard which i covered five years ago in 2013! Gosh, i can't imagine it was so long ago as over a span of one year then; i visited Melaka no less than 3 times!

Made of laterite brickstones found around Melaka, don't be deceived by the supposedly boring structure that has a history of over 500 years.

Macau has The Ruins of St. Paul's and there's also one in Malacca even though it's not as famous despite being older than the Macau one. Originally built in 1521 as a chapel, it's "the oldest church building in Southeast Asia".

In terms of structural condition, i thought it's significantly better than the one in Macau and shows a more complete building' albeit without a roof.

From the design and use of construction materials that differ from the ruins, my bet is that this watchtower / lighthouse was a younger installation. You want to know what attracted my attention?

The ladder leading up to the watchtower!

I was all prepared to climb up the steep stairs when i noticed that the door on top was already padlocked! No wonder no one was loitering around it. :(

View of the Straits of Malacca from Saint Paul's Hill. Most of the buildings you see in front were built on reclaimed land. The UNESCO heritage site is actually on the right side which wasn't captured in the above photograph.

Time to enter the disused church!

Picture of the interior from the exterior; what was a hole to us could likely be adorned with windows or even stained glass. No one knows as the church had gone through quite a number of changes in the first few hundred of years.

Weather vane; age unknown as it looks kinda new and could have been installed as a lightning rod.

Interior of the roof-less church; smelt rich of history, i was intrigued by the many large stone plaques by the walls; they are tombstones previously scattered around the church and were affixed in the 1930s.

Some of them as above.

There used to be a second storey which can no longer be accessible. In the case of The Ruins of St. Paul's in Macau, the authority actually built a staircase so that you can peek out from the windows on the second floor.

No idea what this steel cage was; my suspicion is that it could be the burial ground of St. Francis Xavier, an influential Christian missionary, who was temporarily buried in Saint Paul's Church before the body was moved to Goa.

Half suspecting to see a coffin; it was in fact just a hole in the ground! Well, you can consider putting some coins and notes and work it like a wishing well. However, the Chinese would consider it inauspicious and unlucky as the original purpose was in relation to death.

More tombstones at the back.

Out of curiousity, i was waiting for the couple to finish their photo taking so that i can go up the short flight of stairs to check out the window. From the layout, i couldn't ascertain what's the original purpose.

I had to climb up for a better look.

The ledge can definitely sit a person! Seems that many people prefer to carve their names and leave a permanent mark on the historical building.

Not much of a view even though some other thing caught my attention.

Rambutan trees and they were bursting with red fruits!

Hawker in the church compound; should the ruins be chargeable on day, the likelihood of these hawkers would be affected. Once there's income generation, visitors would demand for better preservation and it would not seem fitting to have such make-shift operations.

To the vendors, it's just a place for them to earn a living whereas it's another story for history buffs; the blatant placement of unrelated, non-historical items would be sacrilegious.

From the insides; the steel bars are likely installed to stabilize the delicate structure and while there's nothing ancient about it, i love the way that the red paint contrasted with the white walls.

Nursing cat with young, adorable kittens; I think Andrew, my feline loving friend who accompanied me to Malacca, regretted not making the trip with me to Saint Paul's Hill! He would likely take more than a dozen photographs to share on his Instagram!

Other random pictures for your viewing pleasure!

Statue of St. Francis Xavier; located right in front of the watchtower / lighthouse, the statue was erected rather recently in 1952 to commemorate the 400th year anniversary of the Saint's stay in Malacca.

Did your sharp eyes notice anything strange from the statue?

The missing right forearm, which wasn't on purpose! According to Wikipedia, a large casuarina tree fell on the statue a day after its unveiling and broke the arm. Coincidentally, "the right forearm of Xavier was detached in 1614 as a relic". Interesting!

Visitors taking pictures with the statue. Those unfamiliar with the Saint Francis Xavier can read more about him here. He was apparently considered as one of the greatest missionaries of his time.

On my way out, i decided to take another route from the front of the church instead.

The church and statue getting smaller and smaller as i descended. Honestly, the view from this path was nicer as compared to the way i took on my way up.

There's another exit but i chose this one instead for practical reason; it's nearer for me to get back to Hatten Hotel Melaka and i only had only about 90 minutes to go before the official check out!

The exit i stepped out from. This one is actually near the main activity area where most tourists were; near The Stadthuys, Christ Church Melaka and Queen Victoria Fountain.

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Location Map

As above.

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