Monday, 16 January 2017

Singapore: The Colonial District

The Singapore River and Clarke Quay

We are en route to the Philippines for our son's wedding, but stopping off on the way for a few days in Singapore. We started our exploration at Coleman Bridge, over the Singapore River. Behind us was a nice view of the river and Clarke Quay. We then followed the South Boat Quay Promenade, passing an array of inviting Chinese fish restaurants, and soon having a panoramic view of part of the the Colonial Quarter. This picture shows the Empress Place Building, the oldest part of which dates to 1864. It now houses the Museum of Asian Civilisation. The white statue on the left marks the very place where Stamford Raffles, the founder of Singapore, is thought to have first landed in 1819. (I saw something very similar in Philadelphia last year: the spot where William Penn landed two hundred years earlier.)

Further on, we started to see examples of public art. I rather liked this statue of a bird by Fernando Botero (1990).

Now it was time to cross the river over the Cavenagh Bridge, opened in 1858 (and so Singapore's oldest bridge) and commemorating Orfeur Cavenagh who had been Governor of what was then called the Straits Settlements from 1859-67.

 After crossing the bridge, I headed off to the right to the next bridge (Anderson) to photograph the wonderful Esplanade: Theatres on the Bay. It was completed in 2001 and designed by DP Architects of Singapore and the London-based Michael Wilford & Partners, although the latter left the project in May 1995. The fantastic cladding of aluminium sunshades was added to the final design and is clearly reminiscent of one of Singapore's emblematic fruits, the durian (we saw some in a market this morning). It is apparently the marmite of fruits - you love it or you hate it.

 Returning to the main purpose of the walk, we admired the elegant symmetry of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall with its landmark clock tower. It was built as the Town Hall in 1862.

Over to the left is a simple obelisk, presumably a war memorial.

We walked round the back of the Museum to get a closer look at the statue of Raffles. It turns out that this is a replica of the bronze statue outside Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.

We headed away from the river passing  the Old Parliament House, originally built in 1827 as the private house of a merchant. It is the oldest building in the city.

This also provided an opportunity to look inside the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall. The central atrium was spacious and interestingly half modern. I loved the image of the fine clock tower through the glass roof.

We headed on past the granite City Hall and Greek Revival Supreme Court (now a museum) and looked across the grassy area known as the Padang towards the extraordinary Marina Bay Sands Hotel.

Soon we reached St Andrew's Cathedral. The original church was demolished after vulnerability to lighting strikes led to it being declared unsafe. The new cathedral was consecrated in 1862.

The stained glass was unusual and attractive.

Later we made the inevitable pilgimage to the famous Raffles Hotel, founded in 1887. We were surprised by just how big it is, occupying an entire city block. This is the main entrance, at one end.

 This is the view from the corner at the opposite end, near to City Hall MRT (metro) station.

 A long colonaded passageway runs along the side.

The entrance to the famous Long Bar is now from this side arcade: the Long Bar was relocated from being just off the lobby as part of a grand restoration in 1991. It is a fine bar and we naturally had a Singapore Sling, along with all the other tourists. It was expensive of course, but enjoyable and good fun.

Conditions: hot, humid, cloudy.

Distance: about 3 miles.

Rating: four stars. A great way to start exploring Singapore.

No comments: