The Istana

Nature, Culture, and Heritage

The Istana, which means ‘palace’ in Malay, is one of singapore‘s oldest heritage sites. It is an architectural marvel and a historical site of interest all in one. Designed and completed in 1869 by Colonial Major John Frederick Adolphus McNair, this Neo-Palladian style building served as the official residence for 21 of Singapore’s governors during the colonial era. Today, it serves as the office of the President of the Republic of Singapore.

The Istana holds great significance in both the historical and modern-day context of Singapore. It stands as a testament to the country’s rich heritage and cultural diversity. The building itself is a masterpiece of architectural design, showcasing the elegance and grandeur of the Neo-Palladian style. Its ornate façade, majestic columns, and intricate details make it a sight to behold.

Visitors who wish to explore The Istana should take note that the grounds are only open to the public five days a year. These Open House days coincide with public holidays such as Chinese New Year, Labour Day, Hari Raya Puasa, National Day, and Deepavali. On these special occasions, the Istana comes alive with merriment and bustle.

During the Open House, visitors can enjoy various programs and activities. Musical performances by students and youths fill the air, adding a lively atmosphere to the surroundings. Face painting and sand art workshops provide entertainment for both children and adults. Families and friends are encouraged to bring their picnic mats and spend a relaxing afternoon amidst the scenic beauty of this historical landmark.

For nature lovers, the Istana offers guided nature walks of its gardens and green spaces. These walks provide an opportunity to enjoy lush greenery while expanding knowledge of botany. The Istana is built on what used to be a nutmeg plantation, and its gardens are a treasure trove of flora and fauna. Visitors can explore the swan pond, the spice garden, and even a Japanese-inspired garden.

Aside from the natural beauty, the Istana also has historical significance. The building has hosted numerous diplomats and dignitaries from around the world. Tours of the Istana Main Building’s function rooms provide insights into the rooms that have welcomed royalty and presidents. Additionally, visitors can view a special display of gifts presented to Singapore’s presidents and prime ministers, showcasing the country’s global friendships.

While access to the Istana grounds is limited to a few days a year, visitors can still explore the rich history and architectural details of the building at the Istana Heritage Gallery. Located just across the road from the Istana, the gallery offers year-round insights through educational exhibitions. These exhibitions include a display of gifts presented to Singapore’s presidents, state artifacts, and a collection of artworks. Guided tours of the gallery provide a chronological timeline of the building’s history and explain its intricate architectural details.

In conclusion, the Istana is a significant landmark in Singapore that showcases the country’s nature, culture, and heritage. Its historical and architectural importance, combined with its lush gardens and educational exhibitions, make it a must-visit destination for both locals and tourists. Whether it’s exploring the grandeur of the Neo-Palladian style building, enjoying the natural beauty of the gardens, or learning about Singapore’s history at the Istana Heritage Gallery, a visit to the Istana promises to be a memorable experience.

Address And Location:

Orchard Road, Singapore 238823

Istana Park
35 Orchard Road, Singapore 238902
(directly opposite main gate of the Istana)

  • Operating Hours

    Chinese New Year 6 February 2019
    Labour Day 1 May 2019
    Hari Raya Puasa 5 June 2019
    National Day 29 July 2019
    Deepavali 27 October 2019

    Opening hours
    8.30am – 6pm

    *As part of The Istana’s 150th anniversary celebrations, the Istana grounds will also be open on 6 October 2019.

    Istana Heritage Gallery opens daily from 10am – 6pm, except Wednesdays

  • Orchard Road, Singapore 238823

    Istana Park
    35 Orchard Road, Singapore 238902
    (directly opposite main gate of the Istana)

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