St. Paul's Church, Malacca, Malaysia

Getty Images/MIXA

St Paul's Church

Melaka City

The evocative and sublime ruin of St Paul's Church crowns the summit of Bukit St Paul overlooking central Melaka. Steep stairs from Jln Kota or Jln Chang Koon Cheng lead up to this faded sanctuary, originally built by a Portuguese captain in 1521. The church was regularly visited by St Francis Xavier, whose marble statue – minus his right hand and a few toes – stands in front of the ruin.

Following his death in China, the saint's body was temporarily interred here for nine months before being transferred to Goa. You can look into St Francis' ancient tomb (surrounded by a wire fence) inside the church.

When the Dutch completed their own Christ Church at the base of the hill in 1590, St Paul's fell into disuse. Under the British, a lighthouse was built and the church was used as a storehouse for gunpowder.

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