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Sunday February 8, 2009
The country’s capital, Kuala Lumpur, is like an open museum dotted with architectural landmarks built over the last 200 years. All you need to do is stroll around the city to realise the historical moments that have shaped our country.
Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Designed by A.C. Norman, construction of the Sultan Abdul Samad building started in 1894 and was completed three years later. Its architecture was inspired Moorish elements, making it quite unique among the other buildings in the vicinity. This building is named after Sultan of Selangor who reigned from 1857 to 1898.
Built in 1888 by the British who ruled Malaya at that time, the Art Deco building used to house a wet market for Kuala Lumpur citizens and tin miners. Further expansions were made in 1889, 1895, 1920 and 1921. By 1933, the expansions to the warehouse would result in its current size today. Declared as a Heritage Site, it is now considered by many to be the best place in town to experience Malaysian culture, art and craft.
The success of the Raffles Institution in Singapore in the 1889s saw the setting up of Victoria Institution (VI) in 1893. However, the present day location of Victoria Institution on Petaling Hill is not its original site.
The original school building was located at Jalan Bandar, and was officially opened on July 30,1894. VI has its own swimming pool and synthetic track for 100 metres sprint event, making it the only school in the region with these facilities.
St John’s Institution
St John’s was founded by the La Sallian Brothers. The secondary school is a red and white brick building with Grecian-Spanish architectural influences and is gazetted as a National Heritage Building by the Government of Malaysia.
Founded in 1904 when the school was set up at the request of the Education Department and the then Bishop of Malacca, Mgr. Fee, the La Sallian Brothers opened a school in Kuala Lumpur. The enrolment was 18 boys.
Masjid Jamek is one of the oldest mosques in Kuala Lumpur. It is located at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak rivers and was designed by Arthur Benison Hubback. It was officially opened in 1909, two years after construction was completed.
The mosque was built on the first Malay burial ground in the city. Before the national mosque, Masjid Negara, was opened in 1965, Masjid Jamek served as the city’s main mosque. The mosque has a Moorish architecture.
Stadium Merdeka was the site of one of Malaysia’s most historically
significant events. On Aug 31 1957, power was transferred from the British Empire to the newly independent Malayan government. Tens of thousands of people crowded into the stadium, which was built specifically for this occasion. While the stadium is an important part of Malaysia’s history, it was almost demolished in the late 1990s. In February 2003, Stadium Merdeka was declared a national heritage building.
Kuala Lumpur Railway Station
Completed in 1910 to replace an older station on the same site, the station was Kuala Lumpur’s railway hub for the Federated Malay States Railway and Malayan Railway, before Kuala Lumpur Sentral assumed much of its role in 2001. The station is notable for it architecture, adopting a mixture of Eastern and Western designs. The station is located along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, previously known as Victory Avenue.
Royal Selangor Club
The Royal Selangor Club is a social club founded in 1884 by the British as a meeting point for educated and high-ranking members of British colonial society in then Malaya.
The organisation was initially based in a small wooden building with an attap roof near the north-eastern corner of the field, now known as Dataran Merdeka or Independence Square, opposite the Sultan Abdul Samad building. Designed by A.C. Norman, 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.
This prison was built in 1895 as a prison after the fall of Singapore. During World war II, the Japanese occupation forces incarcerated many English, Australian and New Zealand prisoners there.
The prison was closed for several years following the 1986 execution of Kevin Barlow and Brian Chambers, both Australian nationals, for trafficking heroin. It was reopened for a short time as a museum in early 2004. No longer used as a prison, it is currently a police station and can be viewed only from the outside.
Carcosa Seri Negara
This landmark is made up of two colonial mansions, one named Carcosa, the other Seri Negara. The Carcosa mansion was built in 1896 as the official residence of Sir Frank Athelstane Swettenham the first British High Commissioner in Malaya of the then Resident-General of the Federated Malay States.
With the eclectic fusion of Neo-Gothic and Tudor styles, the residence has more than eight bedrooms including the master bedroom and guest rooms, and eleven bathrooms. It became a hotel in 1989.
Seri Negara was originally known as the Governor’s Residence when it opened in 1913 as the official guest house of Governor of the Straits Settlement. Later it was called King’s House.
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