A' Famosa


St Paul's Church is a ruin on top of St. Paul's Hill, which was originally called Malacca Hill. Following the Portuguese conquest, Malacca Hill was renamed Monti Ali Maria, or Mary's Hill. St. Paul's Church started off as a small chapel built by the Portuguese, and was called the Chapel of the Mother of God or Igreja de Madre de Deus, or Our Lady of the Hill Nossa Senhora do Oiteiro, also called Our Lady of Grace, or Nossa Senhora da Annunciada.

According to 16th century Portuguese chronicler, João de Barros, Nossa Senhora do Oiteiro was not built by the Portuguese administrators, but by a Portuguese fidalgo (nobleman) called Duarte Coelho.
Structure of A'Famosa
In the 16th century A’Famosa housed the entire Portuguese administration, including its hospitals, five churches, elongated stockades and four key towers. One tower was a four-storey keep; the others were an ammunition storage room, captain’s residence and an officer’s quarters. The rest of the bastion comprised of townhouses clustered inside the fortress walls. The fort was expanded in 1586 to accommodate Malacca’s growing population.
Portuguese History
At the beginning of the 16th century, the Portuguese were establishing outposts in Macau, China and India in order to create a string of friendly ports for their ships plying the routes between China and Portugal. Malacca’s growing popularity meant that it was fast becoming an important link for Portugal to the Spice Route in China. In 1511 the Portuguese fleet, under the command of Alfonso de Albuquerque arrived and launched an attack on the armies of the Malacca Sultanate and defeated them.

Albuquerque moved swiftly to consolidate his gains by building a fortress around a hill near the sea. He used 1,500 slaves to construct A’Famosa as a stronghold to defend against foreign invasion.
Dutch History
In 1641 the Dutch wrested control of A’Famosa from the Portuguese and drove them out of the city. What remains is largely the Dutch reconstruction as they carried out renovation works in 1670, following the siege. To this day you can see a small inscription (ANNO 1670) on the fort’s arch as well as the coat-of-arms of the Dutch East India Company (VOC).

A’Famosa changed hands again when Malacca fell into British hands during expansionist Napoleonic times. Initially under the impression that the VOC was to act as a caretaker administration until a time when the Dutch were able to fully resume control, they had no idea the fort would soon be lost to them forever.