Days Out in Singapore: Fort Canning Park

A historical park on top of a hill, Singapore’s Fort Canning Park is home to a number of excellent attractions. Whether you enjoy spending time in nature, learning more about the country’s history, or listening to lilting music wafting through the air, Fort Canning Park really does offer something for everyone.

History of Fort Canning Park

Fort Canning Park was originally called Bukit Larangan. This name translates into English as the Forbidden Hill. The area got this name because it was believed that anybody who walked upon the hill would meet grave misfortunes. It was the site where the king of Singapura was buried and was home to a historical palace that was destroyed by Portuguese invaders in the early 1600s. There were several stone ruins reported to have been found on the hill when Sir Stamford Raffles explored the island.

Raffles liked the hill so much that he decided to build his Singaporean residence there, along with the country’s first botanical garden. The area was then known as Government Hill. A fortress was later built, including a military hospital, barracks, and store areas. The headquarters of the British army in Singapore, it was the site where the British surrendered Singapore to the Japanese during World War II. Japanese troops used the hill as their command centre.

After the war, the area was once again used by the British, eventually being handed over to the Singaporean army as the country moved closer towards independence.

Attractions in Fort Canning Park Today

Raffles House

See the home that was once occupied by the man accredited with founding modern-day Singapore, Sir Stamford Raffles. Although it is a small bungalow, it is steeped in historical value.

Battle Box

A former underground command centre for the military, visitors can enter the bunkers today and learn more about Singapore’s war history.

Gothic Gates

Sombre and rather severe-looking, the Gothic Gates stand at the entrance to Fort Canning Green, the former site of a cemetery.

Fort Canning Green

Now a green and open space, there are a few of the original gravestones from when the area was a Christian cemetery. It often plays host to musical concerts and other outdoor events.

Fort Canning Arts Centre

Previously where soldiers from the British Army lived, the old barracks now house Fort Canning Arts Centre. It is a terrific place for lovers of all things artistic.

Spice Garden

Take a stroll through the atmospheric Spice Garden and enjoy the various plant and herb species that can be found growing there. It is a replicated version of the original botanical garden as created by Raffles.

Keramat Iskandar Shah

Keramat Iskandar Shar is a revered site that it dedicated to Iskandar Shar, a former ruler of Singapore who converted to Islam and later fled to Malacca to escape invaders from Siam.

Other attractions within Fort Canning Park include a large memorial in honour of James Brooke Napier, the old fort walls and gate, the ASEAN sculpture garden, a small hidden door known as the Sally Port, the luxurious Hotel Fort Canning, which is a popular spot for weddings, cupolas, a large cannon, Maritime Corner, and an excavation site where many artifacts have been discovered. You can enjoy a walking tour of the park or explore independently.