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The Civic District Trail

By: markhsx on 08 Feb 2012
Empress Place, Connaught Drive, St. Andrew's Road, Singapore

The Civic District Trail is a well-marked walking trail with storyboards, markers, and directional signs that link monuments and sites of historical interest.  This trail takes you around the Padang, a significant centrepiece and witness to many of Singapore's historic moments, from the founding of Singapore to the independence of this young nation.

National monuments and fine examples of colonial classical and neo-classical architecture line the trail, which collectively cover almost 200 years of Singapore's history and architectural heritage, from the colonial period through World War II right up to independence.

The Civic District is the historic birthplace where early settlers worked and lived. This was where the royal palace of ancient rulers used to stand, along with the residences of Chinese traders. Centuries later, it became the seat of the British colonial government, where many civic institutes and landmarks were constructed.

Today, the Civic District retains many of its historically and architecturally significant buildings, many of which have been refurbished and restored. Come discover Singapore’s most valuable and historic buildings and structures, parks and monuments. 

Nearest MRT Stations: City Hall [NS25/EW13], Esplanade [CC3]

View The Civic District Trail in a larger map

As shown in the map above, the various sites of interest in this area have been arranged into a walking route from Raffles' Landing Site to the Art House, which would take around one and a half hours to complete. Each site of interest is listed below with a brief description of the site's history and significance.

1 Raffles’ Landing Site
At this spot stands the statue of Sir Stamford Raffles, considered to be the founder of modern Singapore. He is believed to have first set foot here in 1819. This polymarble statue was cast from the original 1887 bronze figure, which now stands outside the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall.

2 Asian Civilisation Museum (Empress Place)
This neoclassical building was one of the last public works projects built by convict labourers. Today, the Asian Civilisations Museum is the first museum in the region to present a broad yet integrated perspective of pan-Asian cultures and civilisations from which the diverse ethnic groups of Singapore trace their ancestry.

3 Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall
Often seen as a single building, the Theatre and Concert Hall were actually built in the 19th century and 20th century respectively. In 1954, the ballots for Singapore's first election were counted under its clock tower and the government formed by Lee Kuan Yew's People's Action Party was inaugurated here. Today, the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall, a gazetted monument and two fine examples of colonial architecture, is a lively venue for the performing arts.

4 Dalhousie Obelisk
Built in 1850 to honour the visit of Lord James Andrew, the Marquise of Dalhousie, then-governor-general of India, the Obelisk was Singapore's first public monument, and stands as a reminder to all merchants of the benefits of free trade.

5 Lim Bo Seng Memorial
This marble pagoda is a memorial dedicated to Major-General Lim Bo Seng, an outstanding World War II hero who led the anti-Japanese resistance movement. He died a martyr at the age of 34 after being captured in Malaya in 1944.

6 Esplanade Park
Once a favourite haunt for courting couples and families who gathered here to enjoy the sea breeze, this promenade still holds many historical landmarks and forms an important frontage for the Padang, Supreme Court, and City Hall.

7 Indian National Army Monument
This World War II plaque was erected in 1995 to mark the site of the original Memorial, dedicated to an unknown soldier of the Indian National Army during the Japanese Occupation.

8 Cenotaph
This memorial was unveiled in 1922 by the young Prince of Wales, later Duke of Windsor, in memory of the British soldiers who died in World War I. A dedication to commemorate those who died in World War II was added later on the reverse side of the monument.

9 Tan Kim Seng Fountain
In 1857, Tan Kim Seng, a prominent Chinese community leader and philanthrophist, donated a sum of $13,000 to the Municipal Council for Singapore's first public waterworks. The council erected this beautiful Victorian Fountain in 1882 in recognition of his generous contribution.

10 Civilian War Memorial
Standing at 61m, this structure was built to honour the civilians killed during the Japanese Occupation. The four pillars, symbolising the Chinese, Eurasians, Indians and Malays who died in the war, join at the base to signify the unity of all races. On February 15 every year, a memorial service is held to commemorate the anniversary of the fall of Singapore to the Japanese in 1942.

11 City Hall and the Padang
City Hall, with its grandiose Corinthian columns, has been the stage for many of the historic events associated with Singapore's nationhood, including the surrender of the Japanese to the British and the declaration of Singapore's independence by Lee Kuan Yew in 1965. The Padang has remained undisturbed by major construction since it was zoned as a playing field in 1820, and is Singapore's most important civic venue for events such as the National Day Parade and sports such as cricket.

12 The Old Supreme Court
The Old Supreme Court was the last colonial classical building to be built in Singapore in 1939, boasting colossal Corinthian columns and a miniature replica of the dome of St Paul's Cathedral. An allegory of Justice stands above the entrance, as well as a frieze depicting the historic signing of the 1819 treaty between Raffles and Sultan Hussein which established Singapore as a trading post.

13 The Arts House at the Old Parliament House
Built in 1827, this is Singapore's oldest surviving building, and used to house the Court and Government Offices, and subsequently, the Parliament, where Singapore's first parliamentary sessions were held. Today, it houses the Arts House, a multi-disciplinary arts centre which showcases a broad spectrum of contemporary and entertainment events.

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