Singapore Historic District
The historic district of Singapore was planned by its founder Sir Stamford Raffles and dates back to the 1820s when the British colonial administration sat down with a blueprint for the whole area. Their initial observation was that the left bank of the river would become the base for sea trade and the right bank cleared for administrators to run the new colony.
Sir Stamford Raffles official Town Plan of 1822 made specific reference to this area as a “Historic District”, with the nucleus being Padang, which was deemed suitable for official ceremonies. The development of this area progressed rapidly and it soon came home to Palladian and renaissance style government buildings, gothic style churches and European hotels, with an essential park created alongside the river for weekend recreation.
Sir Stamford Raffles built his home in what is considered to be the oldest part of the city; Fort Canning Park, in which archaeologists have unearthed artefacts dating back to earlier trading settlements and a sacred shrine that is thought to be the final resting place of the Sultanate of Melaka.
Today’s historic district provides a great opportunity for a heritage walk to take in Singapore’s colonial history. This journey back in time is best started at Clifford Pier where the very first British colonists set foot in the small fishing and trading community of Singapore. A walk up the Quay takes in the luxury Fullerton Hotel, which was once the island’s general post office.
Other notable landmarks in this area include Cavenagh Bridge, the only suspension bridge and one of the oldest bridges in Singapore, which was opened in 1870 to commemorate “Singapore’s new Crown Colony of the Straits Settlement” status in 1867. It is the oldest bridge in Singapore and still exists in its original form.
Another attraction positioned slightly back from the river is the imposing white Empress Place Building, home of the flagship Asian Civilisations’ Museum. Also close by is the actual landing spot of Sir Stamford Raffles and this is commemorated by a statue of him near to the quay. On St. Andrew’s Road stands the Old Parliament House, the oldest government building in Singapore, and close by is the Victoria Memorial Hall, built as a tribute to Queen Victoria in 1905.
Further up St. Andrew's Road, lies the Padang, or playing field, and close by is the Anglican St. Andrew’s Cathedral. Due northeast of this iconic colonial cathedral stands the renowned Raffles Hotel. This hotel is one of the great colonial hotels of South East Asia and it is worth buying a drink just to take in the opulence of the property. Other places of interest in the historic district are the Singapore Art Museum; the Armenian Church and the Singapore History Museum and of course historic Fort Canning Park.