Fort Canning

Coordinates: 1°17′40″N 103°50′49″E / 1.29444°N 103.84694°E / 1.29444; 103.84694

Fort Canning

The entrance of Fort Canning Park at Hill Street.
Type City and heritage park
Location Museum Planning Area, Singapore
Area 18 hectares (180,000 m2)
Created 1822
Operated by National Parks Board
Status Opened
Website Fort Canning Park
Fort Canning Park, River Valley Road entrance

Fort Canning (Malay: Bukit Larangan, Tamil: Pokamutiyatha Arasarin Malai ) is a small hill slightly more than 60 metres high in the southeast portion of the island city-state of Singapore, within the Central Area that forms Singapore's central business district. Although small in physical size, it has a long history intertwined with that of the city-state due to its location as the highest elevation within walking distance to the city's civic district within the Downtown Core. It is also a popular venue for music shows and concerts.

Bukit Larangan

In olden times, the native Malays called the hill Bukit Larangan or Forbidden Hill. This is due to the belief that ill will befall any who entered the hill as it is the place where the five kings of Ancient Singapore were laid to rest as well as the grounds of a palace which once stood on the hill before Portuguese raiders burned down the island in 1619. When Sir Stamford Raffles first came to the hill, he reported a large number of stone structure ruins which confirmed the existence of civilisation on the island before 1819.

Settlement and fortification

Fort Canning viewed from the Singapore River at the end of the 19th century
A sally port on Fort Canning Hill

Impressed by the historic significance of the hill, and the commanding view it offered over the colony he had established, Raffles built his first residence on the hill. A keen botanist, he also built Singapore's first botanical garden there in 1822. The residence served as the colony's governors, thus subsequently earning the name Government Hill.

By late 1859, increased security concerns led to the hill taking on a military role with the demolition of the governor's residence, and the building of a fort with an arms store, barracks and a hospital. The fort was named Fort Canning after Viscount Charles John Canning, who was then Governor-General and the first Viceroy of India. Government Hill was thus named after the fort, and has remained so ever since even after the end of its military role more than a century later.

Under the British Army, the fort served as the headquarters of the Singapore Base District until the spread of World War II into the Asia Pacific in 1941. In February 1942, Lieutenant-General Arthur Ernest Percival established his command post of the Malayan Command at the fort in his ill-fated attempts to defend the island from the invading Japanese forces. The Japanese also used the fort for its military until the end of the occupation in 1945, whereby the British army resumed control. The bunker is now a visitor attraction known as The Battle Box.

As the island moved towards self-determination, the British handed over control of the fort to the Singaporean military in 1963, and was home to the headquarters of the 4th Malaysian Infantry Brigade until December 1966 when it was in turn handed over to the Singapore Armed Forces. The SAF proceeded to build the Singapore Command and Staff College on the fort, which officially opened on 13 February 1970

Fort Canning today

Now a park overlooking Orchard Road and set in the heart of the Civic and Cultural District of Singapore, Fort Canning offers a variety of recreational activities, historical, educational, entertainment and cultural experiences. The park also serves as an important green lung for Singapore's downtown city area. The unique blend of historical relics, lush greenery and expansive lawns has made Fort Canning a hub of cultural and artistic activity. It has been a venue of choice for staging myriad outdoor events and activities like theatre carnivals, art festivals, starlight cinemas and Ballet Under the Stars performances. WOMAD, Singapore's largest music festival, has been a regular feature of the park's calendar of events since 1998. The Fort Canning Tunnel passes directly under the hill.


Fort Canning Arts Centre
The Battle Box, Underground Far East Command Centre
The Gate of Fort Canning
Gravestones in Fort Canning Green, relocated from Bukit Timah Cemetery

See also

Wikimedia Commons has media related to Fort Canning.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 11/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.