Malacca is truly a state rich with relics of the nation's past. Today these historical remains are now the main attraction for tourists visiting Malacca. One of the important areas in Malacca town is around the vicinity of St. Paul's Hill, which was once the centre of the great Malacca Malay Sultanate Empire. In the proximity of this hill can be found the Famosa Fort, Stadthuys Building and other Portuguese and Dutch remains.
In fact atop St. Paul's Hill palace site remnants of the Malacca Malay Sultanate are still intact. The palace which was built on St. Paul's Hill or formerly known as Bukit Melaka, is believed to be Sultan Mansor Syah's Palace, which was once a magnificent and beautiful palace as narrated in the Malay Annals by Tun Seri Lanang.
The historical remains during the Malacca Sultanate is also evident around Malacca Town such as the Royal Well (Perigi Raja), Hang Tuah's Mausoleum in Tanjung Keling, as well as the mausoleums of Hang Jebat and Hang Kasturi. The Royal Well for instance was dug out under the order of Sultan Mansur Syah for his queen Puteri Hang Li Po from China. This well is located at the foot of Bukit China.
Based on the awareness towards the importance of these historical traces being preserved, the Malacca State Government had taken the initiative to propose that a replica of the Malacca Malay Sultanate Palace be constructed with the main purpose of nurturing the spirit and glory of the Malacca Empire legacy. This idea was the brainchild of the Malacca Chief Minister, YAB Dato' Sri Abdul Rahim Tamby Chik.
In relation to this the Malacca State Development Corporation (PKNM) under its General Manager Encik Mohd. Zam Abd. Wahab was given the responsibility in realising this vision. A committee consisting of the History Association of Malaysia (Persatuan Sejarah Malaysia) Malacca Branch, Museum and Malacca State Development Corporation was formed to research and collect information for the design of this palace.
The Persatuan Pelukis Melaka (Painters Association of Malacca ) was later given the task of coming up with the replica model of the palace and a number of alterations were made based on the views from the Tourism Task Force Committee (Jawatankuasa Petugas Pelancongan). The palace replica model was later displayed at the Museum office to get secure public opinion on its overall design. The model was finally handed over to the Engineering Division, Malacca State Development Corporation for the preparation of building plans. The construction of the palace building commenced in October 1984 and was completed by mid 1986. The official opening was held on 17 July 1986 by the Prime Minister, YAB Dato' Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed.
The construction of the Malacca Sultanate Palace replica on a 0.7 hectare land amounted to a total cost of RM1.4 million. Its design highlights the intricacy of wood carvings with local floral and plant motives which are clearly illustrated on the palace walls and columns. In addition to being a replica of the Malacca Sultanate Palace, this building also functions as the first Cultural Museum of its kind in Malaysia.
According to the Malay Annals, this Large Palace had 17 spaces, each measuring 87.5 metres in length and having 40 doors. However, for the construction of its replica its design was made slightly smaller to suit the site area. The actual dimension of this palace replica is 67.2 metres long, 18.5 metres high and 12 metres wide.
This palace has a multiple-tiered roof with its first tier being the longest with a dimension of 75 metres long and 12.5 metres wide, with each of its roof edge slightly concaved upwards, identical to the Minagkabau house design. This palace is supported by four main central pillars besides a other forms of support. At the front portion of the palace there are six interior rooms which once had its own special functions and significance.
The construction materials used for the palace consists of local timber such as Cengal, Resak and Nyatoh while its roof was made using belian wood from Sarawak. Similar to the construction methods of the ancient times, this palace was built without the use of any iron nails. Apart from its interesting design with a Minangkabau influence as well as intricate and fine wood carvings of plant and floral motifs, the replica of the Malacca Malay Sultanate Palace also contains exhibition materials.
On the first floor the exhibition spaces is provided which includes the balairong seri depicting the era of the Malacca Malay Sultanate reign, for example,when being in audience to the Sultan and other palace protocols. The second floor displays the Sultan's sleeping chamber as well as his other special rooms while the third floor showcases the treasury. The construction of the Malacca Malay Sultanate Replica Palace will not only add to the nation's heritage built structures but also demonstrate to the public on the Malacca state history which was opened by the Malays and had emerged as the centre of the biggest Empire in South East Asia in the 15th century.