Central Georgetown walking tour


By Gael
Hilotin for Yahoo!

Georgetown, the capital city of Penang
State in Malaysia is an epitome of the strength of multi-culturalism. This UNESCO World Heritage site is home to a vast collection of old colonial buildings inspired by a variety of styles such as the Neo-Classical Style among others.

I started my photo walk at the Esplanade, the northern

part of Georgetown near the port. Here you can see the towering Queen Victoria Clock Tower constructed sometime in 1897 to commemorate the
diamond jubilee of the British queen. Fronting the tower is the historic
Fort Cornwallis built in 1810. There is not much left inside, save for a few
canons, an empty chapel and a lighthouse.

Walking along the bay, you can see charming
government buildings inspired by Neo-Palladian and Victorian architecture; the
massive City Hall, painted in white, the Court Building and the Town Hall which

was once the center of Penang socialite.

Georgetown also houses several mosques, temples
and churches. One of the most prominent church here is the St. George's Church,
the oldest church in South East Asia. Just a few meters away stands the
Goddess of Mercy Templen (Canton-Hokkien Temple) dedicated to the goddess Mar
Chor Por. It is the first temple built by Chinese settlers in Penang.

Another must-see in town is the Pinang Peranakan

Mansion, a beautifully restored Baba-Nyonya inspired house previously owned by
a "secret society" leader Kapitan Chung Keng Wee. The house is painted in
mint-green and has a vast collection of luxurious cultural artifacts and
antiques inside.

Walking along Lebu Queen Street, I stumbled into
Sri Mahamariamman Temple which is one of the oldest temples in Penang.
Unfortunately it was closed at that time but I was able to get inside a

Muslim mosque on the next street. The Kapitan Keling Mosque was the first
mosque I've entered and it's one of the most beautiful I've seen. The
inside has lavishly designed interiors displaying Islamic geometric design. Another mosque around the area is Masjid Melayu Lebuh Acheh built in
1808, it served as the center of Haj travel during the 19th century.

Chinese temples abound in Central Georgetown, and one
of them is the Hainan Temple or The Temple of the Heavenly Queen. It is a
humble temple dedicated to the Sea Goddess Mazu and served the Hainanese

immigrants. Another prominent Chinese temple in Penang is the plush Cheah
Kongsi Temple along Cannon Square Street. It is a fusion of a Chinese
mansion, a Chinese temple, and a European bungalow.

Evidently, Georgetown has a rich cultural
heritage and walking around the rustic city will make one realize that a blend
of different cultures living harmoniously is feasible.