Porta de Santiago remains the most recognizeable landmark in Malacca. Porta in Portuguese refers to portal, which means gateway and true enough Porta de Santiago was indeed one of four main gateway into the Portuguese fortress of A'Famosa.
The leader of the Portuguese army that conquered Malacca in 1511, Alfonso de Albuquerque started the construction of A'Famosa in 1512 from which they fended of attacks by the armies of Sultan of Malacca and Acheh for well over a century, a testament of how formidable this fort once.
The Portuguese used slaves to construct this squarish fort surrounding Malacca Hill with walls 3m thick using parts from the demolished palaces, royal mausoleums and mosques. A 40m high watchtower once stood in the Northwest corner of fortress.
After the Dutch defeated the Portuguese in 1641, they reinforce and widen the fortress and put the mark of "VOC" (Dutch East India Company) of the coat of arms of the Dutch soldier together with the year 1670.
This fort was nearly obliterated by the British in 1795 who decided to destroyed it for fear of it being used against them after Malacca handed back to the Dutch. In 1807, British under the Resident William Farquhar used gun powder to blow up the fort.
However, Sir Stamford Raffles and Lord Minto intervened and stopped his countrymen from totally demolishing this fort completely. Only Porta de Santiago was spared from the total demolition.
It is now a star attraction for the city of Malacca with traders selling their art works inside the ancient structure.