"Fort Cornwallis"
Penang Richest Historical Site
Fort Cornwallis - The Great Fortress of Penang

Sir Francis Light would have never thought that the fort he built more than two centuries ago are still intake and filled with the everlasting rich history of Penang.

The star shaped Fort Cornwallis marks the starting point where Francis Light and his crew from British East India Company landed in Penang on 11th August 1786 to "take possession" of the island from the Sultan of Kedah. It was later named after the Governor-General of Bengal, Charles Marquis Cornwallis.

The Fort was built initially with nibong (palm trunk) stockade with no permanent structures, covering an area of 417.6 sq. ft. And it was only
during Colonel R.T. Farquhar's term as Governor of Penang in 1804 that the fort was rebuilt with bricks and stones by convict labor dispatched
from India.

The construction of Fort Cornwallis was completed in 1810 during Norman Macalister's term as the Governor of Penang with the cost of about 80,000 Spanish Dollars.


Interesting site that can be found in the fort during that time was:
  • A military barracks and offices as well as the room for the storage of gunpowder magazine.
  • A Christian Chapel - the firstly built and recorded service of marriage that took place in Penang,
  • A harbor light and flagstaff to signal and communicate with incoming ships.
  • Numerous cannons with one of it being call Sri Rambai, a brass cannon with an interesting history. According to local folks the cannon possess magical power in which if a lady place a flowers on the barrel of the cannon, their fertility rate can be increase.
  • Cell rooms to hold prisoners.
  • Stores and guard houses.
  • A moat of 9m wide and 2m deep surrounding the fort that is being filled up in the early 1920 due to the malaria epidemic that hit the island

Statue of Francis Light

Although was originally built for the Royal artillery troops and the military, it was used more on
administrative rather than defense. In its entire history, the fort had never been engaged in any
battle even when the Japanese took over Penang from the British during World War 2.

The Fort was gazettes on 8th Sept 1977 under the Antiquities Act 16B/1976 as an Ancient
Monument and Historic Site so that it can be conserve and preserve. From March 2000 to March
2001, the restoration of Fort Cornwallis has been granted by the Malaysia goverment using a total sum of RM1.9million to bring back the shine and to its former glory.

In 1991, the government had privatized the management of the Fort in an effort to enhance
its position as one of the prime tourist attractions in Penang.


Logo of British East India Company

Today, Fort Cornwallis with its new ornamental wooden gate and complete with an observation tower at the main entrance, looks more solid and intact than ever. The heart of the fort contains lines of air condition historical gallery, a handicraft and souvenir shop, and a modern open-air amphitheatre, where local music and cultural festivals are frequently staged.

The legendary fort of Penang has now turn to become a protected historical and with the current overall area of 332,859 sq.ft, the fort are the biggest and the most intact fort that can be found in Malaysia.



Old British Canopy Model

Cell Room that has been
converted into gallery

Storage Room for
Gunpowder Magazine

Fort Corwallis Cannon

When you walk into the fort, you'll be greeted by the bronze statue of Francis Light that overlooks the fort which holds a great heritage treasure in the capital of Georgetown. And with entrance fees of a mere RM3, I guarantee that you'll get your money worth.

There is a fort directory located at you left side which will guide you on what are the attractions that can be found here. It will be best if you start your tour on the left side of the fort by visiting the chapel, followed by the historical gallery to know more about the history of the fort.

Once you finished, walk toward the old model of British canopy that is being used by Francis Light when he first arrived in Penang on 1786. You'll be able to see the modern amphitheatre that will showcase the arts and cultural activities during certain days of the month.

If you're lucky, you'll be welcome by a nice lady wearing an old British custom to help shoot a photo of you with the statue of Francis Light. The fort entrance is facing the field of City Hall. Just ask around if you can't find the entrance.

If you need further information on Fort Cornwallis, just e-mail me! I'll get back to you as soon as I can. Promise :-)




Opening Hour :
Fort Cornwallis are open from 8:30am to 7:00pm daily.

Getting There :
The fort are located at Padang Kota Lama, Georgetown. Pretty easy to find. You can get there either by walking or taking a more relaxing trishaw ride. If you drive, you can park your car at the parking lot beside the fort. Parking fees - very cheap!

Admission :
RM 3 per person.