Singapore: Colonial District National Monuments Walking Tour (Self Guided), Singapore

The Colonial District was founded by Sir Thomas Stamford Raffles on the east bank of the Singapore River. There are monuments that are recognized all over the world as symbols of Singapore and they evoke the city-state's rich historical past. This self-guided tour will lead you to the most famous national monuments of the Colonial District:
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Singapore: Colonial District National Monuments Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Singapore: Colonial District National Monuments Walking Tour
Guide Location: Singapore » Singapore (See other walking tours in Singapore)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 6
Tour Duration: 1 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 2.5 Km or 1.6 Miles
Author: vickyc
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Merlion Statue
  • Raffles' Landing Site
  • City Hall
  • Saint Andrew's Cathedral
  • Cathedral Of The Good Shepherd Singapore
  • Early Founders Memorial Stone
Merlion Statue

1) Merlion Statue (must see)

No tour of Singapore is complete without seeing the Merlion and the small park surrounding it that caters well to the tourists visiting the city. An imaginary creature, half fish and half lion, the Merlion has been used as a mascot and national personification of Singapore since 1964. The fish body symbolizes Singapore's humble beginnings as a fishing village back in the day when it was called Temasek, while the lion's head, on the other hand, stems from the old tale about the city's present name “Singapura” which translates from Sanskrit as the "Lion City".

Curiously enough, lions with fishtails can also be found on murals at Ajanta and Mathura in India, as well as on Etruscan coins of the Hellenistic period. Merlions, or ‘heraldic sea-lions’, are an established element of Western heraldry, and have been used on the coat of arms of the cities of Portsmouth and Great Yarmouth in the United Kingdom, as well as the City of Manila and the East India Company.

While being one of Singapore's most kitschy of attractions, sitting near this 9-meter statue, that spouts water from its mouth, does provide commanding views of the Marina Bay area, as well as of the city skyscrapers and the Singapore Flyer (if standing on its right). If you’ve already been to Raffles and got yourself a Singapore sling, well, a trip up the Merlion is the next logical step.

It can get really busy here but people come and go quite quickly so, with a little patience, you're bound to get a good shot of the statue. Better yet, try to enjoy the location more rather than worry about the perfect picture, and this place will definitely hit the spot.
Raffles' Landing Site

2) Raffles' Landing Site (must see)

The statue of Singapore's founder, Sir Stamford Raffles, reportedly marks the spot where he set foot on the island for the first time, on the northern bank of the Singapore River, which today serves as the Civic Precinct accommodating governmental buildings, a concert hall, galleries, and museums – in all, a very different experience from the Boat Quay on the opposite bank.

For someone who had spent a very limited time in Singapore, Raffles had an extraordinary influence on its development. His name appears everywhere in the city nowadays, but his impact extends way beyond the civic commemoration. The streets you walk in the city center still largely follow the original plans that he drew. The ethnic districts, still evident today, particularly in the case of Little India, were all demarcated by him as well. Even the classic shop-house design – built of brick, with a central courtyard for light, ventilation and water collection – has been attributed to Sir Raffles either. More importantly, Singapore’s very existence as one of the world’s great ports is a direct consequence of Raffles’s vision to set up a British trading post here, thus countering the Dutch power in the region.

Having stepped ashore on the northern bank of the Singapore River in 1819, when the place was just an unwelcoming swampland and a tiger-infested jungle, Raffles recognized the island’s potential and immediately struck a treaty with Abdul Rahman, chieftain of Singapore and subordinate of the Sultan of Johor, to establish a British trading station. The Dutch were furious at this British incursion into what they perceived their territory. Realizing that the sultan’s loyalties to the Dutch would make the final approval of his deal impossible, Raffles approached the sultan’s brother, Hussein, recognized him as His Highness the Sultan, and concluded a second treaty with both him and the chieftain. As a result, the Union Jack was raised and Singapore’s future as a trading post was thus set. With its duty-free stance and strategic position at the gateway to the South China Sea, Singapore experienced a meteoric expansion, as the Chinese, Indians and Europeans arrived in search of work and commercial opportunities. By 1860 the population of Singapore had reached 80,000, the most numerous of them being Southern Chinese immigrants. By the end of the century, the opening of the Suez Canal and the advent of the steamship had consolidated Singapore’s position as the hub of international trade in the region.
City Hall

3) City Hall

The City Hall of Singapore is a national monument where the government of the city sits. It is situated opposite the Padang which is a field reserved by Stamford Raffles - founder of the city - for public events. Nearby is the Supreme Court of Singapore. Visitors are allowed inside. They can see the Corinthian colonnade and the main building.
Saint Andrew's Cathedral

4) Saint Andrew's Cathedral

Saint Andrew's Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Singapore. It is a very beautiful and impressive Anglican Church built in the Neo-Gothic style. It was rebuilt after a fire destroyed the original building. There were rumors that the place was haunted by unhappy spirits and the church was closed. During the Japanese invasion the church served as an emergency hospital. Since 1973 it has been a monument of national importance in Singapore.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Cathedral Of The Good Shepherd Singapore

5) Cathedral Of The Good Shepherd Singapore

The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is the oldest Roman Catholic church in Singapore. It is located in the Museum Planning Area within the Civic District and affords a welcome respite from the city. Bounded by the parallel Queen and Victoria Streets, and Bras Basah Road, the Cathedral sits within well-shaded grounds. Much of its architecture is reminiscent of two famous London churches namely St Paul's, Covent Garden and St Martin-in-the-Fields. The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is the cathedral church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Singapore and the seat of its archbishop. It is the final resting place of Bishop Edouard Gasnier, the first bishop of the revived Diocese of Malacca and aptly houses the relics of Saint Laurent-Marie-Joseph Imbert, to whom the Cathedral owes its name. The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is built in a restrained Renaissance style. Its porticos are in the Palladian manner, which was established here by George Drumgoole Coleman. Its plan is in the form of a Latin cross and like all traditional churches, it is orientated east. Its high timber ceiling and its sensitive and harmonious use of round arches lend the building much grace and charm. The Cathedral of the Good Shepherd houses two pipe organs – the Gallery Organ in the second floor gallery and the Choir Organ in an elevated box in the north transept. It is notable that the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is the only church in Singapore to have two organs that can sound within the same space.
Sight description based on wikipedia
Early Founders Memorial Stone

6) Early Founders Memorial Stone

The Foundation Stone of the Monument to the Early Founders of Singapore, also called the Early Founders Memorial Stone, is a national memorial dedicated to the early founders, also known as "Unknown Immigrants", of Singapore. There are no famous names on it. It transcends all ethnic groups in Singapore and commemorates those who contributed to the creation of a modern multiracial, multilingual Singapore.

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