Christ Church is an important edifice in Malacca because it clearly represents the faith, kindheartedness and diversity of this historic city. Formed by ancient tides of migration and colonization, the city of Malacca is a melting pot of Eastern and Western cultures, traditions and religions. People of different races and beliefs live together in this small city, which makes it a very interesting place in western Malaysia; interesting enough to be considered by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. Built by the Portuguese when they came to rule over Malacca (or Melaka), Christ Church (Protestant) is one the most important religious institutions in the area, along with St. Paul Church (Roman Catholic), and the three temples along Harmony Street – Kampung Kling Mosque (Islam), Sri Poyatha Moorthi Temple (Hindu), and Cheng Hoon Teng Temple (Taoist), which is the oldest and grandest Chinese church in Malaysia.
Christ Church stands out among many structures for the following reasons. One, it is red. The entire church building is colored coral red with a huge white cross running in the middle. It is accentuated by surrounding greeneries and colorful flowers, which makes Christ Church even more distinguished.
Two, visitors are attracted by what are parked outside the church – trishaws. Lining up along the Jalan Gereja (or Church Street) are colorfully decorated trishaws, or “becca” in Malay, offering their services for a cultural tour around the city’s many tourist and historic attractions.
A trishaw is a regular bicycle with a sidecar for two passengers. It is a traditional Malaccan mode of transportation that is now used primarily for tourism and cultural experience. This is not a preferred ride over the taxi or bus since trishaws are slow and expensive. Tourists hire a trishaw more for the cultural experience as they endure traffic pollution on a cramped, bumpy ride. The sight of trishaws lined up in front of the red cathedral makes for exciting photographs.
Three, people, regardless of religion or race, visit the church for its history. It was constructed by the Dutch from 1741 to 1753 to commemorate 100 years of Dutch occupation of the city. (The Dutch captured the city from the Portuguese in 1641.) When the British took over Malacca, they added the bell and weathercock, and converted the church into an Anglican Church in 1838. In 1911, it was painted red along with the nearby structures. Its original color was white.
Inside the church are important pieces of history such as tombstones, silver altar vessels, brass altar Bible, ancient church documents, and 200-year-old pews and windows.
Four, for art lovers, Christ Church is an amazing piece of ancient architecture, specifically of Dutch Colonial architecture. The ceiling is 40 feet (12 m) high, with wooden beams that were all carved from a single tree. The roof is made of Dutch tiles, the walls are Dutch bricks coated with Chinese plaster, while the floors of the church are composed of granite blocks. Outside the church are Stadthuys (old Dutch residences), the Queen Victoria Fountain and a windmill.
Christ Church continues to function today with services available in English, Chinese and Tamil. It is the oldest functioning Protestant Church in Malaysia.