Related to our previous article about the Orchard Rd, we mentioned attractions why the road is worth a visit when in Singapore. Today, the Istana is the spotlight of this article. Being the official residence of the President of Singapore – although no presidents or cabinet ministers have lived there since 1959, the villas are meant to be used for foreign heads of state are also used rarely. The Istana building and its grounds are open to the public on five selected statutory holidays such as the Lunar New Year, Deepavali, Hari Raya Puasa, Labour Day and National Day. Deepavali and Hari Raya Puasa comes in successive days so in some years the grounds of the Istana are open only once during this time in commemoration of both public holidays. Sometimes its grounds are used for state functions and ceremonial occasions such as swearing-in, investitures and the presentation of credentials by heads of foreign missions. The Prime Minister, senior minister, and minister mentor hold offices in the Istana Annex. One must not miss the first Sunday of the month where there is a Changing of the Guards parade, and is a popular public event.
The Istana’s structure is similar to most 18th century neo-Palladian style buildings designed by British military engineers in India with its tropical layout – like a Malay house, surrounded by statuesque columns, deep verandahs, louvered windows and paneled doors, to promote cross ventilation. The central 3-storey 28-metre high tower block dominates the building. The well proportioned two-storey side wings feature Ionic, Doric and Corinthian orders with Ionic colonnades at the second storey and Doric colonnades at the first storey. The building stands in the elevated position overlooking its stately grounds, the Domain, very much like that of the great gardens of England.
The Palace as what the Malays call it is where the president receives and entertains state guests other than serving as the working office of the Prime Minister of Singapore. It is situated in a large open compound of the Orchard Road area. The 106 acre of an estate was once part of the extensive nutmeg plantation of Mount Sophia and during 1867, it was built as the official home of the British Governor. It was until 1959 when Singapore was granted self-government, and the Governor was replaced by the Yang di-Pertuan Negara, who was in turn replaced by the President. Truly, this amazing architecture is rich with history and politics of Singapore. It is one good start to get to know how the Singapore government survived and flourished.
Sources: Wikipedia, http://www.sgsummer.com