Penang World Heritage Site :: Fort Cornwallis

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Address: Fort Cornwallis, 10200 George Town, Pulau Pinang, Malaysia.

Business Hours: Open daily from 9am – 7pm

Ticket: Adult RM2, Children RM1

A historical site where Captain Francis Light, the founder of Penang, first landed in 1786. It was named after the Governor-General in Bengal, Charles Cornwallis, and was one of the first few European structures constructed here. Originally, the star-shaped fort was made of timber but was later replaced with the present brick structure by convict labourers around the year 1793 at a cost if 67,000 Soanish Dollars.

The fort used as military and administrative base of the British East India Company, was built to protect the island from possible onslaught launched by Frenchmen. However, no battle has ever taken place at the fort, not even during the Japanese invasion in the 1940s.

The main attraction is a cannon, known as ‘Seri Rambai’ which faces the North Channel. It is believed that barren women can become fertile by offering special prayers with flowers and joss-sticks to the cannon.

The most famous cannon at Forn Cornwallis is the Seri Rambai. This particular cannon has a fascinating history. It was first presented by the Dutch to the Sultan of Johor in 1606. In 1613, the Portuguese took possession of Seri Rambai. Then it was taken to Java, where it stayed until 1795, when it was given to Acheh, and was brought to Kuala Selangor. Later, in 1871, the British seized the cannon and brought it over to Penang. It was installed on Forn Cornwallis, where it is still located, on the northwest bastion.

Powder Magazine

Underneath the cannon in an old gunpowder magazine, constructed in 1814, the gunpowder magazine located at the North-East bastion of the fort was used to store explosives. Its pillbox shaped design with thick wall was meant to minimize the damage in the event of the an explosion.

Francis Light who was a Christian built this church for worship purposes and this church was the earliest Anglican Church. Located on the landward side of the fort. In 1799, the first service taking was recorded that the marriage of Martina Rozeils, who was the Francis Light’s widow, with John Timmer.

The old chapel of a triangular shaped roof remains intact until today at the south-west corner of the fort.


Built in 1811, the cell was first used as barracks to house European artillery, The site now is used as exhibition halls for artifacts unearthed from the fort, the illustration for fort’s history and photos for Penang.

Light House

Fort Cornwallis Lighthouse is one of the oldest lighthouses in Malaysia and erected in 1882 by the British administration. it was known as the Fort Point Lighthouse. The lighthouse underwent renovations in 1914 and 1928. As part of the renovation, the name was also changed to Penang Harbour Lighthouse from Fort Point Lighthouse. It standing on a 21-meter white steel framework and with a visual range of 16 nautical miles.

Today, one can see a playground just beside the fort with many food stalls catering for the evening crowd.

Further reading: Restoration project of the Fort Cornwallis >>>

Location map:

GPS Coordinates: 5°25’13.71″N, 100°20’38.00″E Geotag Icon Show on map

Photo gallery:

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Posted by on March 22, 2011 under World Heritage.

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