An historic landmark signifying Malaysia’s independence as a nation after 150 years of British rule, Merdeka Square is an interesting place to visit if you travel to Kuala Lumpur.
Malaysia has a rich history and taking time to learn about the country’s colonial past and path for independence is an interesting thing to consider when deciding what to do in Malaysia.
Situated in the central city, Merdeka Square is the exact location that the Union Flag was lowered and the Malaysian flag was hoisted for the first time at midnight on August 31, 1957. The spot is now marked by a 95 meter flagpole, one of the tallest in the world, and is one of the most important historical places to visit in Malaysia.
The name of the square comes from the direct translation of the word ‘Merdeka’ which means independence in Malay. Prior to becoming known for this historical importance, the space was known as the Selangor Club Padang and was used as a cricket green.
Known as the heart of Malaysia nationalism, Merdeka Square is surrounded by impressive colonial architecture which also incorporates exotic elements in a fusion of cultures. Once the location for British social and sporting spectacles, it is now used as the location for Malaysia’s stunning Independence Day celebrations.
Merdeka Day is celebrated every year on August 31 and if you are on holiday in Malaysia during this time, you will be lucky enough to soak up the excitement. On this day, the area around the square closes to traffic and thousands of Malaysians throng to Merdeka Square to remember and celebrate their independence. Attending one of these celebrations is a must-do thing to do in Kuala Lumpur and it is hard not to get caught up in the pride that Malaysian people feel for their country.
Taking time to visit the many buildings of historical importance which surround the square is one of the more fascinating things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building, one of the most photographed sights in Kuala Lumpur, stands proudly over the square and is one of the most distinctive landmarks built by the British. Its design was inspired by Indian Moghul architecture and was built in 1897. It is now used by the Ministry of Heritage, Culture and Arts but it was once home to the Selangor State Secretariat and the Supreme Court. The office of the Ministry of Information, Communication and Culture of Malaysia lies next door.
The renowned Royal Selangor Club Complex which was built in 1884 and used by the upper circle of the British colonial society is positioned on the opposite side of the square. The former National History Museum lies to the south but its extensive collection of artifacts now reside in Muzium Negara. The imposing St. Mary’s Anglican Cathedral, currently the Diocese of West Malaysia, heads up the north of the square and is also worth a visit.
Merdeka Square is also used as a popular venue during the year for other events including open air concerts, carnivals and sporting events.
Visitors who are holiday in Malaysia and travel to Kuala Lumpur are encouraged to adopt responsible attitudes to travelling. Fostering respect for Malaysian history, taking only photos and leaving all cultural attractions of importance as you found them will enable more tourists to enjoy the many delights of places to visit in Malaysia.