IN THE HEART OF KUALA LUMPUR sits a large pasture of perfectly-trimmed grass, surrounded by some of KL’s most memorable buildings. It was here at Dataran Merdeka – ‘Independence Square’ – that at midnight on 31 August 1957, Malaya announced its independence from the British, lowering the Union Jack and flying the Malayan flag in its stead. Today, to take one of the thrice weekly free guided walking tours around the square and its buildings is to take a trip through time.
HISTORY ON DISPLAY
The 95-metre flagpole from which the Jalur Gemilang was first flown nearly 60 years ago stands as one of the tallest of its kind in the world, with a spectacular Victorian fountain at its base serving as a reminder of Malaysia’s colonial past.
The Royal Selangor Club Complex immediately stands out to any visitor to Dataran Merdeka as the Tudor-style buildings appear to have been brought straight from a cricket field in the English countryside.
On the other side of Jalan Raja lies the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, whose juxtaposed architecture contains elements of Moghul design based on AC Norman’s time spent admiring the mosques of India. Today, housing the offices of the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture of Malaysia, the building’s hallowed interior is every bit as eye-catching as its magnificent exterior.
Next to this is the City Theatre, Panggung Bandaraya DBKL, where plays and musicals have been showcased for over 100 years. Catch MUD The Musical at this exquisite theatre and watch the vivid history behind the city of Kuala Lumpur unfold.
The four UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Malaysia — the cities of George Town in Penang and Malacca, as well as Gunung Mulu National Park, Kinabalu Park and the archaeological heritage of Lembah Lenggong – are being showcased in an exhibition in the grand halls of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building.
One of the defining features of the Dataran Merdeka area is the iconic ‘I [Heart] KL’ logo outside the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery. Ongoing currently at the gallery is an intricate City Model Show, in which more than 5,000 buildings have been constructed using a variety of materials to create a massive scale model of the city.
See our KL Calendar for more details on these activities and events.