Commissioned during British rule in Malacca, the lighthouse was completed in 1849 as an additional beacon for ships travelling along the Strait of Malacca. The lighthouse is also notable for its location within the old harbour town of Melaka, atop St. Paul's Hill on the south side of the harbour and affront the ruins of St. Paul Church . The lighthouse was eventually deactivated; the functionality of the lighthouse diminished further as the Malaccan harbour underwent land reclamation during the late-20th century. The building is now part of Melaka City tourist attractions.
As the structure is located within an urban area, the Melaka Light is essentially an approximately 13 metre (43 feet) high, three-storey square tower with no outbuildings, assuming an angular form different from many of its cylindrical and cone shaped counterparts throughout the region. The masonry tower consists mainly of a lantern and gallery mounted on an arched base, and is solely accessible from ground level via a small ladder. Having been designed and built during the mid-19th century, the lighthouse adopted basic elements from neoclassical architecture. The tower is painted white.