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 Map of George Town - Core & Buffer Heritage Zones


With the map of George Town in your hand, it is easier to move around and visualize where you are going. George Town City Center is easily covered on foot or bicycle.

You may also take the trishaw or use the public transportation like the taxis or buses to get around.

Inside the heritage enclave, the trails are marked for you to follow. There are several trails. They are pretty flexible and also quite fun, if you are into history and culture, the trails are made for you.

For those who wish to know more about the heritage zones and the buildings in the area, there are some details that you will find useful.

When Penang started to bid for the status of UNESCO's World Heritage City, the city council drew up a plan by dividing the city into several zones.

Here is the map of George Town, with the original heritage zones in Inner city. The zones were divided into six areas. The six areas were categorized according to the most prevalent economic or cultural activities. They were:

  • Seven street precinct
  • Cultural precinct of Chulia Street and Love Lane
  • Historical Commercial district of Little India
  • Waterfront business financial district
  • Mosque and clan house enclave
  • Market and shopping district

Original heritage zones
Origonal heritage zones part 2

Later, the zones were shrunk to its original size now:

Current core and buffer heritage zones
Current buffer and core heritage zones in Penang
The two maps above were copied from a wall display,
courtesy of Penang Heritage Trust.

We know it takes a lot of money, time and energy to restore the buildings inside the heritage zones on the map of George Town. It is a major task that many of the property owners are unable to do.

Majestic heritage house in Penang
This was once a majestic house. It is now in a sad condition. Even then, we are still able to see the beauty of it. The architecture is neo-classical with British India influence.

There are many reasons for this. Some owners no longer live there. Some owners lack fund and also the expertise to start a restoration project. Some owners do not even bother because they do not get any incentive to do so.

In order for any pre-war building to be recognized as a heritage building, it has to fulfill several criteria. It may well be:

  • Located inside the heritage core zone
  • A home of a famous or an influential person (for example, P. Ramlee who was a famous actor, the house where he was born is not inside the map of George Town Inner City, but it is still considered as a heritage building)
  • Built with a unique kind of architecture that is no longer available nowadays

Art deco heritage building in Beach Street, Penang
A very good example of a well maintained
Art Deco style building in Beach Street

Usually if a building is owned by a corporate body, it is easier for the corporation to maintain it because they simply have more cash to do so. That is why most nicely maintained heritage buildings in the core zone are owned by banks or other financial institutions.

There is also an argument that the old buildings should remain in the hands of the locals instead of being sold to foreigners. No doubt the price of real estate in the core zone has gone up since the inscription. The questions are, who should benefit more from it? And, who will appreciate the value of it?

The answers depend on what we truly want. Do we want our heritage to be in the hands of those who want to make quick money and run? Or, should it remain to those who appreciate the artistic values, its historical aspects and have no fear to work tirelessly to promote and create awareness? You decide.

The status of George Town as a heritage city will be reviewed by UNESCO every three years. It is a continuous process. The current heritage map of George Town and its skyline must be preserved and maintained or the title will be taken away. That would be such a shame, wouldn't it?

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