There are a large number of National Monuments in Singapore, comprising historical and heritage buildings, monuments, and other sites that are deemed to be of large national significance. These sites are protected by law, namely the Preservation of Monuments Act, which makes it an offence to destroy or deface these important structures. Some are famous and well-known spots that attract a lot of visitors, whereas others are relatively unknown to outsiders. There are places of worship, old educational institutions, former government and official buildings, heritage homes, and more.
Providing insights into Singapore’s past and culture, as well as being interesting to look at, some of Singapore’s National Monuments include:
Cathedral of the Good Shepherd
Built in the 1840s as a church, which was then given cathedral status in the 1880s, the Cathedral of the Good Shepherd is the country’s oldest Roman Catholic cathedral. It is modelled after two churches in the UK’s London, St Paul’s in Covent Garden and St Martin in the Fields.
Hong San See
A traditional Chinese temple that dates back to the early 1900s, Hong San See was built by immigrants from China. Standing on a small hill, the temple as had good views of the sea. It features beautiful carvings and ornate doors.
Old Ford Motor Factory
Built in 1941, the art deco building was the first Ford vehicle assembly factory in all of Southeast Asia. It was in operation as a car plant for a just a short time, however, being used to make parts for planes during World War Two. Then taken over during the WWII Japanese occupation of Singapore, it was used as their army headquarters. It was the scene of Britain’s surrender in Singapore, and was then used by Japanese car manufacturer, Nissan. It is now home to a museum that takes you through the last days of war before the British surrendered, and offers fascinating insights into Singapore’s past.
Maghain Aboth Synagogue
The oldest Jewish place of worship in both Singapore and Southeast Asia, Maghain Aboth Synagogue was built in 1878. Originally with just one level, a second storey was later added. It features timber-framed windows, a covered porch, and decorative columns.
Old Tao Nan School
Constructed between 1910 and 1912, Tao Nan School was established by local philanthropists from China with the aim of preserving Chinese heritage and culture and providing an education to local Hokkien children. It is an unusual building, with several Renaissance features. With symmetrical details, arched verandas, an attractive entrance, a bright atrium, and high ceilings, it is an elegant and grand building. It now houses the Peranakan Museum.
St James Power Station Singapore
Now a lively and energetic nightspot, home to clubs and bars, and attracting a varied crowd looking for a fun time, St James Power Station was the first coal-fired power factory in Singapore. It dates back to 1926.
One of the oldest bridges in Singapore, Cavenagh Bridge was built in the late 1860s, opening to the public in 1870. Spanning the Singapore River, it is the country’s only suspension bridge.
Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall
Consisting of two elegant buildings joined together in the middle by a graceful clock tower, the first parts of the Victoria Theatre and Concert Hall were built in the early 1860s. It was originally the city’s Town Hall, and as the first building in Singapore to be built in its style. It has lovely Italian-style windows and many opulent touches. It was used as an emergency hospital at the start of WWII, and trials for Japanese war crimes were held here after the war. Amongst other significant events to have taken place here are the founding of the People’s Action Party and the launch of Television Singapura. Today, it is a delightful concert hall.
Founded in 1826, Masjid Jamae (or Jamae Mosque) is one of the oldest mosques in Singapore. It is sometimes also known as Chulia Mosque because it was created by Chulias, a group of Tamil Muslims who came to Singapore from southern India. Other names include the Big Mosque and the Maideen Mosque. The grand outer facade is flanked by two soaring minarets that are octagonal in shape and topped by small onion-shaped domes. It merges different architectural styles and is quite an unusual piece of architecture.
Sri Mariamman Temple
Dating back to 1827, the colourful Sri Mariamman Temple is the oldest Hindu temple in Singapore. Marked by a decorative and stunning gopurum with images of people, animals, flowers, deities, and other objects, the inner courtyard is surrounded by a number of shrines and halls. The large complex boasts ornate ceiling paintings, statues, grand columns, and more, The temple is dedicated to Mariamman, the goddess of rain and mother goddess of South India, though many other deities have shrines within the temple too.
This is just a small selection of the glorious National Monuments that you can admire when visiting Singapore.