Merdeka Square is undoubtedly Kuala Lumpur’s best-known place. It is also known as Dataran Merdeka, it is set in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (the former State Secretariat).
Directly in front of it is the Royal Selangor Club and to the north, it is St. Mary’s Church, one of Malaysia’s oldest Anglican churches.Following are the features in Merdeka Square
• Merdeka Square seems to be nothing more than just a giant field with perfectly manicured green lawns and a central attraction of the tallest flagpole in the world (95m) proudly displaying the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian flag).
•At the corner of Jalan Raja Laut and Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman, Merdeka Square consists of a Padang (field) that was once the Selangor Club of the cricket pitch.
•Colonial Core Surroundings of the Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur
Despite the numerous changes in the landscape over the years, Kuala Lumpur has kept its majestic charm with Merdeka Square and its colonial surroundings in its heart.
- The beautifully-maintained, 200m-long Padang is the most famous stretch of green in KL – it was here that in Malaysia is highly proclaimed Merdeka (freedom or independence) on August 31st, 1957.
- Apart from the lofty flagpole is a giant TV screen with a mix of advertisements flashing and religious messages.
• Royal Selangor a Club at Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur
The place for Malaysia’s annual Merdeka Parade (Independence Day) celebration, Merdeka Square hosts rock concerts and besides the pitch is the Plaza Putra shopping complex.
•At the same time, directly opposite is the very British Tudor-inspired Royal Selangor Club: built was in 1884 and it was the favorite watering hole of the British elite and the center of the colonial society in its heyday.
The frequent backdrop in most of the sightseeing photos of Merdeka Square, much of it was destroyed in a fire of the 1960s.
•The rebuilt club is still a favorite haunt of KL VIPs. The low, black-and-white mock-Tudor building is used to be called ‘the Spotted Dog’ in memory of its mascot – a Dalmatian belonging of a former member.
Although membership is open to anyone who can afford it, RSC’s colonial saloon is still maintained its image of an exclusive haunt and remains an all-male preserve.
•Notable buildings and features
There is a 95-meter flagpole, one of the tallest in the world, and is located at the southern end of the square. A flat, round black marble plaque is marked at the place where the Malayan flag was raised for the first time.
Near the flagpole, at the corner of the Padang, you will see a fountain, the Cop's Fountain, was built in 1897 as a memorial to Steve Harper, a popular police inspector.
A carpark and retailer area, the Plaza Putra which was later changed the name to Plaza Dataran Merdeka, was built underneath the Merdeka Square; however, the location had been greatly affected by flooding.
Surrounding the square are many buildings of historic interest. Just beside the square, it is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building currently the office of the Ministry of Information, Culture, and Communication of Malaysia.
Opposite to the square is the Royal Selangor Club which was first founded in 1884 as a meeting place for high-ranking members of the British colonial society. In the South, there is the former National History Museum which used to welcome a vast collection of historical items.
The collection has just been moved to the Muzium Negara. Adjacent to it is the Kuala Lumpur City Gallery which tells the story of Kuala Lumpur through dummy models and The Spectacular City Model Show.
To the North of it is the St. Mary's Anglican Cathedral, currently the Diocese of West Malaysia and the see of the Bishop of West Malaysia. Not far away from the square is also the original Kuala Lumpur Railway Station, which is still operational there.
However, the main hub has recently been moved to the KL Sentral in 2001.
The Merdeka Square is located exactly on opposite the Sultan Abdul Samad Building and right beside the Royal Selangor Club. This place is the history where the Union Flag was lowered and the Malayan flag was raised for the very first time at the stroke of midnight of 31st August 1957.
From then onwards, Merdeka Square has been the place for the annual Merdeka Parade.
The most convenient way to get to the Merdeka Square via public transport is by getting through any of the three train lines that run same through the Masjid Jamek station.
And then walk towards Jamek Mosque from the station and proceed towards the corner and towards the Merdeka Square.
The flagpole which held the flag of Malaysia is the highest in the world, towering to a height of 100 meters. Merdeka Square is a historic place where Malaya declared its independence.
If you are inspired by the Malayan history, you can come here and click some pictures. The field in front of the Merdeka Square was officially named as Dataran Merdeka on 1st January in conjunction with the Visit Malaysia Year 1990.
There are many other attractions nearby the Merdeka Square. For shoppers, you can come over to Central Market Kuala Lumpur to buy some of the local souvenirs and food and at the same time, you can learn about the different cultures of the society that has contributed in up of Malaysia.
The Central Market is made up of a few floors which are captured by many stalls. Another place where many locals and tourists should visit is the Petaling Street (Chinatown) as this is the best place where you can taste local street foods and purchase all sorts of things.
The Petaling Street is completely full of stalls ranging from souvenirs to fruits and even imitation goods of designer brands. If you need to relax after hours at the Petaling Street, you can visit over to Berjaya Times Square.
In Berjaya Times Square largest indoor theme park which is the Cosmo's World Theme Park. There are rides for all age groups in the 380,000 sq feet area. If you are already very much tired from all the walking and shopping, you can put up for the night stay at the Berjaya Hotel which is located above the shopping center of Berjaya Times Square.
In the early time of Kuala Lumpur, the Malay and Chinese communities settled along the east bank of the Klang River. To the west of the river was a land originally owned by Yap Ah Loy and was used to plant green vegetables.
In 1880, the capital of the state of Selangor was moved from Klang to Kuala Lumpur by the colonial administration.
The then British Resident William Bloomfield Douglas had decided that the government buildings and their staff living quarters should be located to the west of the river to keep them away from what he considered the unsanitary condition of the town and the possibility of uprising from the locals.
The government offices and the new police headquarter were built on Bukit Aman, with facilities for the police located on Barrack Road (now Jalan Tangsi and part of Jalan Raja).
A patch of swampy and uneven ground immediately to the west of the Klang River was then marked and drained to be used as training ground for the police. The land was acquired from Yap by the British Resident Frank Swettenham for $50 per acre in 1882.
This patch of land originally called as the Parade Ground, would become the Padang. Ten years later in 1892, the Acting British Resident Ernest Birch who was a keen cricketer has then started to smooth over the ground so that it may be used by a cricket ground and other sports.
The Selangor Club clubhouse was built at the present location was in 1890 and the St Mary's Church was built in 1895.
In 1897, the government offices were shifted from Bukit Aman to the Sultan Abdul Samad Building overlooking the Padang. The building is one of the
most significant attractions built by the British and was designed by R. A. J. Bidwell, A.C. Norman, and A. B. Hubback in the Neo-Mughal or Indo-Saracenic form of architecture.
This building housed by the Selangor State Secretariat and later the Supreme Court before the court was moved, and the building was left unused for some years. It now houses the Ministry of Heritage, Arts, and culture.
Merdeka Square is the usual place for the annual Merdeka Parade (National Day Parade). It is frequently used for the location for political rallies as well as other events. Merdeka Square was the initiating line of The Amazing Race Asia 1.
A nation was born here in when Tunku Abdul Rahman, the first prime minister of Malaysia, who declared the country independent from British colonial rule.
This spot is marked as a marble plaque and a 95-meter high flagpole, which is reputed to be the tallest flagpole of the world.
And thus what was once the cricket green of the Royal Selangor Club (or "Padang" as it was then called) has now become an iconic part of Malaysia's history. A granite plaque at Merdeka Square will give you a concise account of the significance of this place.