Inside the Sultan Abdul Samad Building

SultanAbdulSamadBuilding

The stately, copper-domed Sultan Abdul Samad Building on Merdeka Square is one of Kuala Lumpur’s most famous landmarks. Although tourists flock to take photos from the outside, the interior has been off-limits for years as it serves as a government department.

This year however, the Ministry of Tourism’s Department of National Heritage has been staging an exhibition in one section of the building, allowing the public to take a sneak peek inside.

Inside the Sultan Abdul Samad Building
Part of the ‘Our Heritage is World Heritage’ exhibition.

The exhibition, called Our Heritage is World Heritage comprises displays featuring Malaysia’s four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, namely:

  • Archaeological Heritage of the Lenggong Valley
  • Gunung Mulu National Park
  • Kinabalu Park
  • Melaka and George Town, Historic Cities of the Straits of Malacca

The exhibition runs daily from 9am to 5pm until 31 December 2015 and is free admission.

The exhibition was not very exciting and I was more interested to see what else they have inside this historic building. Security guards did not allow me to wander about but I was able to take a few pictures.

This interior corridor is in fine condition for an 118 year old building. The marble floor looks recent.
This interior corridor is in fine condition for a 118 year old building. The marble floor looks recent.
Main entrance lobby.
Main entrance lobby and atrium.
From this artist's impression it appears that more space is to be opened up to the public.
From this artist’s impression it appears that more space is to be opened up to the public.
This painting on one of the interior walls shows events in Malaysia's history.
This painting shows events in Malaysia’s history.

While in the vicinity, I also took a look inside the foyer of the neighbouring City Theatre which is housed in the former City Hall, a building designed by AB Hubback and completed in 1896.

Attractive foyer to the City Theatre, also at Merdeka Square in KL
Attractive foyer to the City Theatre, also at Merdeka Square in KL

It is good that the Malaysian and KL Governments are finding ways to breathe new life into these old heritage buildings.

Queen Victoria Fountain, Kuala Lumpur

Queen Victoria Fountain, Kuala Lumpur

I have never paid much attention to the Queen Victoria Fountain on previous visits to  Merdeka Square, preferring instead to focus on the magnificent copper-domed Sultan Abdul Samad Building and the other elegant landmarks nearby.

The fountain was sent out from Britain to commemorate Queen Victoria’s diamond jubilee in 1897 but apparently was not assembled on site until 1904, by which time Victoria had already died. The delay might have been because it was originally intended to be located in Market Square but the police thought it would cause a traffic obstruction so it was set up on the padang instead, close to Chartered Bank.

It’s commendable that KL Municipality has preserved the fountain in working order for the past 110 years but I can’t say it is an object of great beauty. The green tiles are reminiscent of a Victorian public toilet and the eight statues in the fountain’s base are just plain ugly.

Queen Victoria Fountain, Kuala Lumpur

Some guide books refer to these creatures as ‘winged lions’. On closer inspection, they don’t look much like lions.  More like gryphons, the heraldic beasts of the City of London, with dragons’ wings, knobbly torsos and fishy faces. They remind me of the scary monsters in the episode of Fireball XL5 (or was it Stingray?) that frightened me so much as a child that I had to hide behind the sofa!

The shape of the top of the fountain bears some resemblance to KL Tower and blends in well with the city skyline.

P3150028