The Stadthuys is an important historical building and major tourist attraction in the centre of Melaka (also known as Malacca) on Dutch Square close to Christ Church Melaka.
The Stadthuys is open from 09:00 to 17:00 from Monday to Thursday, and from 09:00 to 20:30 on Fridays and at the weekend. The entry fee for residents of Malaysia is 5 MYR for adults and 2 MYR for children. For foreign visitors the entrance fee is 10 MYR for adults and 4 MYR for children.
About the Stadthuys
Construction of the Stadthuys commenced in 1641 when the Dutch took over the colony of Melaka from the Portuguese, and is believed not to been completed in its entirety until 1560.
Stadthuys is the Dutch word for Town Hall and from the time it was completed through to the period when Melaka came under British control in the 19th Century the building served as an administrative centre for the colony. This is the building where the functions of local government were carried out.
What makes the Stadthuys particularly interesting it’s Dutch design and construction style. The building is similar to buildings from same period in the Netherlands, and is considered by many to be the earliest surviving example of Dutch architecture in Asia.
Notable Dutch style design features of the Stadthuys include its terracotta roof tiles, louvred windows, substantial doors and kitchen complete with a stand alone bakery. At that time bread was not commonly a part of the diet of people in the Malay peninsula and the installation of a bakery at the colony’s Town Hall allowed the Dutch colonial administrators to eat similar food to what they were used to eating back in the Netherlands.
In 1982 the Stadthuys the Stadhuys was converted into a museum dedicated to the history and ethnography of Melaka prior to incorporation of the colony into the Federation of Malaya in 1948. This period have five phases, each represented by the 5 bronze statues that stand in the entrance hall of the building:
- Sultanate of Melaka (1402 to 1511)
- Portuguese control (1511 to 1641)
- Dutch Control (1641 to 1826)
- British Control (1826 to 1942 and 1945 to 1948)
- Japanese Occupation (1942 to 1945)
The different rooms within the Stadthuys have displays which are mostly organised in relation to each of these 5 periods. Artefacts are displayed, as well as dioramas, and paintings, relating the story of Melaka and its people.
Relatively little remains from the earliest period of Melaka’s history during the period of the Sultanate, and most of the items relating to this time on display at the Stadthuys are later representations of what people believed life was like back in the 15th Cenutry.
One of the criticisms people often make of the museum in the Stadthuys is that the items on display, whilst interesting, are not accompanied by sign giving the age of the item or its history. This criticism is most true of the many items which relate the indigenous population of the area. The age and history of the various artefacts on display which were at one time used by the various different foreign colonialists is much better documented.
Despite this lack of crucial information about much of what is on display, the museum at the Stadthuys nonetheless provides visitors with a good sense of the history of Melaka and what it was like to live there. There are also some useful models showing the layout of the city over the ages.
It is well worth paying the entrance fee to get into the Stadthuys. The building itself is magnificent and there are enough things of interest in the museum to occupy most visitors for 1 to 2 hours.
Location of the Stadthuys
- Bandar Hilir, 75000 Malacca, Malaysia.