Penang is an island off the coast of Peninsular Malaysia and is linked to the mainland by one of the longest bridges in the world. The capital of the state of Penang, Georgetown (map), is a UNESCO World Heritage site. For hundreds of years, Penang played an influential role in the trading relations between Europe/Middle East and Southeast/East Asia. Many Chinese, Arab and Indian traders made the town their base, along with the British and the Dutch. The legacy of the East-West relations and the colonial heritage lives on till today as Georgetown is packed with lovingly-restored heritage homes and buildings from its British colonial past as well as magnificent villas built by Chinese traders who made their fortunes trading spices. Of all the heritage buildings in Georgetown, one of the most prominent, and a must-see, is the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion (or the Blue Mansion).
The Blue Mansion in Georgetown
Called the Blue Mansion because of its stunning blue façade, the mansion was built in the 1880’s by one of the most powerful Chinese trading and shipping tycoons, Cheong Fatt Tze. The distinct blue colour of the mansion was derived from a blend of lime and natural blue dyes from the indigo plant. Today, the mansion is a national treasure and is one of the highlights of Georgetown.
The mansion was designed and built by artisans and craftsmen from China who generously applied the principles of feng shui in both the general layout as well as in the ornate decorations. Western (predominantly British) elements were incorporated in the design, probably to impress his Western trading partners. The result is a wondrous mix of East and West; best exemplified by the central courtyard which features Scottish cast-iron balusters, Art Nouveau stained glass and Chinese timber lattices.
Inside Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion
If you’re visiting Penang, you shouldn’t miss a tour or a stay at the Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion to learn about its history. The Cheong Fatt Tze Mansion truly is an enchanting place to visit! Check out other things to do in Penang. Penang is one of my recommended islands to visit in Malaysia.