A’ Famosa, or "The Famous" in Portuguese, is among the oldest surviving European architectural remains in Asia. Once part of a mighty fortress, this tiny gate (called the Porta de Santiago) is all that is left of the fortress. 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 and quickly built a fortress 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 Portuguese colonised Melaka from 1511 to 1641. As Melaka was the centre of struggles between super powers of the time, it suffered constant threat of attack. Hence, the A'Famosa fort was critical for Portugal to maintain its colonial foothold in the Far East.
Within the fort walls were housing and food stores, a castle, a meeting room for the Portuguese Council and five churches. A seven-month attack by the Dutch just about destroyed the entire fortress, leaving only the entrance façade and the structure of a church at the top of the hill.
Go for a stroll up St. Paul's Hill on a cool late afternoon and wander among the majestic trees and historical remnants. Here, you can almost imagine the glories and miseries of the besieged lives the Portuguese would have led right here all those years ago.