Archive for October, 2007

The Istana

Posted in Places, Singapore, Tourism with tags , , , , , on Tuesday, October 16, 2007 by Colin Quek

Istana, or “palace” in the Malay language. This is where the President of the Republic of Singapore conducts official meetings with state guests. The Istana is also the official residence of the President, occupying 106 acre of land along Orchard Road.

The grounds of the Istana is open only a couple of times per year for public entrance. The 13th of Oct was such a grey cast day. But it never dampened my spirits to capture what I could of this magnificent palace.

The Istana was built in 1867 – 1869 by Singapore’s first colonial governor, Sir Harry Saint George Ord. Having seen the British rule, to the Second World War, and then on to the independence of the nation, the Istana certainly deserves to be one of the most history rich buildings in Singapore today.

Apart from the rich history, the unique architecture of the building also stood it out from the usually modern skyscrapers of Singapore. Designed by J.F.A. McNair, it features

a well proportioned building in the shape of a cross. The architecture was Ionic/Doric with Corinthian pillars and pilasters to the towers and the roof was slated. The plaster was made with Portland cement with white sand and powdered granite. Government House was built with Indian convict labour.

source: Streetdirectory

In the large compound that assails one’s visual sight is a lone big gun. Left from the Japanese Occupation. Probably seen plenty of action during the Japanese Occupation period, today it’s a silent reminder of times past.

Making my way around the Istana, I chanced upon 2 of the guards marching toward their sentry posts I presume. Ceremonial Guards as they are called.

ps. I should have stood in their way and see what their reaction will be? Nay…

I especially like the statue of Queen Victoria, presented to by the Chinese community as a memento of their loyal affections and gratitude for the benefit of her rule in the year 1889. The 6 foot high statue in Sicilian marble was the work of E. E. Geflowski and is one of the most lifelike statues of the Queen ever made.

I was even treated to a live band performance from Zhonghua Secondary School. Their medleys simple “made the grey skies blue” for the listeners present. Well done Zhonghua.

Reluctantly, I had to leave the place due to the pressing rain. Present at the gates however to greet all visitors are the words that echoed through all patriotic Singaporeans…”Majulah Singapura”. Etched on the gate emblems, I find that it really symbolises the true Singaporean spirit.

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