Friday, 7 May 2010

the gardens of Istana

Saturday morning was beckoning us to get out and about ..... what to do?

Ah yes, ISTANA was having an open day ... lets start there!
 The Istana grounds are open to the public five times a year in celebration of the following occasions:

  • Chinese New Year
  • Deepavali
  • Hari Raya Puasa
  • Labour Day
  • National Day
The next Istana Open House has been scheduled for:
  • Sunday, 8 August 2010 (to celebrate National Day)
Istana means 'palace' in Malay. The Istana is the official residence of the President of the Republic of Singapore, Mr S R Nathan.

Mr Nathan began his six-year term as the sixth President of the Republic and the second Elected President on 1 September 1999.  On 17 August 2005, Mr Nathan was re-elected and he was sworn-in for his second term of office on 1 September 2005. 

 The Istana is the official residence of the President where he receives and entertains state guests. The entire domain occupies over 100 acres and is located along the busy Orchard Road. The Istana building was completed in 1869 and was known as Government House until Singapore attained internal self-government in 1959.

"Tropical Renaissance", "the finest 'country-house' east of British India" - these are some of the phrases that had been used to describe the Istana. The Building with its tropical layout, statuesque columns and deep verandahs is built in the neo-Palladian Anglo-Indian style.

Besides the Istana, the Sri Temasek within the Domain was completed at about the same time. This unique wooden building also has deep verandahs in the style of Malay houses.

Two other buildings of note within the Domain are the Villa and the Military Guardroom.
The Istana was known as the Government House before Singapore attained internal self-government in 1959. Designed and built by the Colonial Engineer, Major John Frederick Adolphus McNair, it was completed in 1869.

In 1867, the Colonial Government under Governor Sir Harry St George Ord bought over 100 acres of land belonging to Charles Prinsep's nutmeg plantation. The foundation stone was laid by Lady Ord (wife of the Governor, Sir Harry St George Ord) in July 1867.
The entire brickwork, exterior of plastering and most of the flooring and interior work of Government House were done by Indian convict labour. Indian convict labour were brought in from Bencoolen in Sumatra because the unskilled local coolies at that time who earned 3 - 7 cents per day were not capable of carrying out the classical design. They worked as stone masons, plumbers, carpenters, painters and stone cutters. They even operated the kilns (used for making bricks, mouldings, copings and architraves) that were constructed on site. For this, they were paid 20 cents a day. 
 indeed these gardens and the Palace itself are simply wonderful and we highly recommend a visit to Istana on it's next Open Day.

We arrived at 11.00 and there were no queue's at all .... and left at 3.00pm. .... and headed over to The Esplanade .... all about the Esplanade in the next blog post!!!

 see previous post for the start of a great weekend.


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