Malacca (or Melaka) is Malaysia's most historic city. Its origins canbe traced to the 14th century with the founding of a fishing kampung(village) by a fugitive prince from Sumatra. Thanks to its strategiclocation on the Strait that bears its name, Malacca was from itsearliest days an intermediary center of trade. Sheltered from themonsoons by the island of Sumatra, the settlement was perfectly locatedfor merchants to take advantage of the trade winds. When Singapore wasstill a fishing village, Malacca had already achieved fame and, by thebeginning of the 16th century, was the most important port in theregion. Foreign merchants traded in Indian and Persian textiles, spicesfrom the Moluccas, silk and porcelain from China as well as gold,pepper, camphor, sandalwood and tin.
The prosperity of Malaccaattracted the Portuguese who ousted the Sultan and establishedthemselves as the new lords under whose rule the city continued tothrive. In the mid-1600s, a Dutch blockade and a six-months siege ofthe city forced the surrender of the last Portuguese governor. Over thenext hundred years, the Dutch carried out an extensive buildingprogram; some of the buildings still stand in Dutch Square.When theDutch trade began to bother the English East India Company, England'sobjective for control of Malacca was satisfied in the Treaty of London.In 1826, the port became a part of the British Straits Settlement alongwith Penang and Singapore. In the 19th century, Malacca faded intoobscurity until the first rubber estate in Malaysia was establishedwith some seedlings from Singapore's Botanical Garden.The idea caughton among Chinese and European planters and Malacca soon became one ofthe country's leading rubber producers.
Exploration of Malaccaincludes temples, churches, old Dutch houses and, close to thewaterfront, a village of traditional Melakan houses. An interestingtrail ' called the Jerak Warison Heritage Trail - features many of thehistoric sights. Jonkers Street is renowned for its antique shops.