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Independence Square ~ Places to Visit in Kuala Lumpur
KL Visitors Guide


HOME > VISITORS GUIDE > PLACES TO VISIT > KL CITY CENTRE > MERDEKA SQUARE


Dataran Merdeka (Merdeka Or Independence Square) was the place where on midnight of August 31, 1957 where the Union Jack was lowered for the last time and Malayan flag (Jalur Gemilang) was hoisted for the first time in the country's history upon gaining independence from the British rule.

Now, the Square is a popular venue for various other events such as open air concerts, carnivals, starting/finishing point for marathons etc.
The Square was the focal point of colonial Kuala Lumpur. Surrounding the square are many buildings of historical interest, such as the Royal Selangor Club, the Sultan Abdul Samad building and St. Mary’s church.



The Royal Selangor Club
It was formerly part of the Selangor Club and was known as the Selangor Club Padang, and was originally the cricket green of the Selangor Club (now Royal Selangor Club). It was founded in 1884 by the British as a social club.

Before there was a club everybody met everybody at Maynards, which was the only European shop in Kuala Lumpur – Maynards, a pharmaceutical chemist but it also sold liquor and a wide range of other things. Ladies went shopping in the confidence of meeting friends and lingering to chat.

Initially in1892 it had 140 members and was but a small wooden building with an attap roof at near the north eastern corner of the padang and serve as a cricket as well as a social club.

It was then replaced by a two-storey structure in 1890 on the west side of the padang, the present site of the club.
Designed by AC Norman, a Government Architect, it served as a meeting point for educated and high-ranking members of British colonial society.

The club was nicknamed "The Spotted Dog" as two Dalmatians belonging to the wife of one of the club founders were left to guard the entrance of the club whenever they visited the club. The club is also simply referred to as "The Dog".

The building was later redesigned by architect Arthur Benison Hubback (who was notably credited for the design of the Kuala Lumpur Railway Station) and rebuilt in 1910, with two additional wings on either side of the main building and a Mock Tudor styling.

Over the years, the club's membership increased and had also begun to include high-ranking Malaysian civil servants: judges, lawyers and important people in society. The club's proximity to the High Courts at the other side of Dataran Merdeka has also made the club a suitable meeting place for the legal fraternity.

The field or padang affront the Royal Selangor Club, now known as Dataran Merdeka, had long belonged to the club before the was taken back by the Kuala Lumpur City Hall in 1987 to be used specifically for events organised by City Hall.

Sultan Abdul Samad Building
The most beautiful building at the Merdeka Square is, without any doubt, the Abdul Samad Building. The predominantly Moorish appearance of the building suitably reflects the cultural background of Malaysia. T

he gleaming copper domes of the Abdul Samad Building are topped by a 43 meter clock tower. The central tower holds a clock that was first heard during Queen Victoria's birthday parade in 1897.

This is surmounted by a copper dome that is in turn topped by a copper chatri. Two circular towers, housing stairways leading to the upper floor, flank the central tower.

It was originally known as "The New Government Offices". It is one of the oldest buildings in the city. AC Norman (architect) and CE Spooner (state engineer) have been credited for the creation of this building.

However, it is recognised that although AC Norman drew the ground plan, it was RAJ Bidwell (chief draughtsman) who did the elevation based on a Mohammedans' (sic) style as instructed by CE Spooner. This 'Mohammedan' architecture, also known as 'Neo-Saracen', came from India where several major buildings had been built in this style.

It was to be the largest building of its day, constructed entirely of brick and what appears to be cream stone is actually plaster covered brick. The construction began in 1894 and was completed in 1897 at a cost of 152,000 Straits Dollars.

The building became the centre of British administration in Selangor. The Post Office and the Sanitary Board were also located here.

The building was extensively renovated to house the nation's judiciary. It has been left vacant recently with the judiciary move to Putrajaya, the new administrative centre of Malaysia.

100 Metre Flag Pole
As a symbol of this historical event, a 100 metre high flagpole (the world tallest) was erected at the very spot where the Malayan flag was first hoisted. The square is used to celebrate national events, carnivals, live performances, cultural events and other social awareness campaigns.



The Horse Fountain
At one end of the square is old ornamental fountain and drinking trough was ordered from England by the Sanitary Board. The fountain was brought in from England and assembled locally in 1897.

The fountain was originally to be erected in Market Square, however, the police objected on grounds that it would obstruct the flow of traffic and suggested the present site at the corner of the then Parade Ground.


Kuala Lumpur City Gallery
This magnificent building facing the iconic 100 metre flag pole, is now refurbished to its current role as an information centre for tourists and locals alike to learn about the city and its history through prints, photos and architectural models. This place which is opened daily from 8am to 6pm, offers an excellent introduction to KL and visitors are greeted by very friendly, informative staff and they give out those really cool walking maps of KL as well.

There's also the ARCH gift shop selling a collection of locally made gifts and soon visitors will be able to view a 40ft x 60ft scaled model of greater KL supported with video footage on the past, present and future developments of the city.
 

St. Mary's Cathedral
This neo-Gothic church which is also known as the Cathedral of St. Mary the Virgin, is the oldest Anglican church in Kuala Lumpur. It is the Episcopal of the Anglican Bishop here and is also the mother church of the diocese. The
Church started as an un pretentious wooden building in 1894 with the foundation stone laid by William Treacher at the present location near the Selangor Club.

This wooden church which cost $1,363 to build, could accommodate up to 95 people at full capacity, was the centre of worship and spiritual life of the small group of Anglicans in and around Kuala Lumpur at that time.

Among these early parishioners were Frank Swettenham, the Resident General of the Federated Malay States or FMS, and William Treacher, the British Resident of Selango

The congregation grew steadily, and in 1893 it was decided to build a new and larger church. A church building fund appeal was launched. It raised $5,168 and the governor of the straits settlement, Sir Cecil C. Smith, agreed that the government of Selangor would provide the remaining $5000 needed for the construction of the new church.

Interestingly, there were a number of non – Christian who responded to the appeal. Prominent among them were Yap Kwan Seng, “The Captain China”, Who donated a significant sum of $1000. In 1895 the Church was consecrated by Bishop Hose. Pipe organ built by the famous 19th century organ maker, Henry Willis, was installed. Henry Willis also made organs for St. Paul's Cathedral and the Royal Albert Hall. The Church was upgraded to St Marys Cathedral with the appointment of a bishop for West Malaysia.

The History
•1860s': the Chinese cleared the land and cultivated vegetables on it.
•1870s': the capital of Selangor moved from Klang to Kuala Lumpur and vegetable plots were turned into a padang or field. Used by the police forces for their parades and thus was called the Parade Ground. The Police Headquarters were built on Bluff Road, located on a small hill now called Bukit Aman.
•1880's: The founding of Selangor Club. Cricket and rugby were played regularly on the Padang.
•1926: Worst flood of Kuala Lumpur. Currency notes from the Chartered Bank were left to dry in the Padang.
•1957 Lowering of the Union Flag and the raising of the Malayan Flag during independence.
•1990: After major renovation, renamed Dataran Merdeka or Independence Square. The renovation was in preparation for Visit Malaysia 1990. It was officially opened by the then Prime Minister of Malaysia, Dr. Mahathir Mohammad.


Best Way to Visit - KL City Tour

A Full or a Hull day private tour which includes private vehicle with driver / guide at your disposal that allow a visit here and other places of interests of your preference.


PLACES & SIGHTSEEING ~ KL CITY CENTRE
• CHINATOWN • CENTRAL MARKET • JAMEK MOSQUE • MARIAMMAN TEMPLE
• THEAN HOU TEMPLE • PETRONAS TWIN TOWERS • KL TOWER • INDEPENDENCE SQUARE
• KINGS PALACE • CHAN SEE SHU YUEN TEMPLE
 

 

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