Fort Canning: Old Fort, New Park

Despite the hot weather, we found another park to explore this past weekend!  Fort Canning is located in the middle of the city and is slightly elevated on a small hill, making it a prime location in Singapore’s history of colonial occupation.

Old Fort

2017.04.25_Fort Canning (8)
Entrance to the Battle Box? Path to Narnia?

Prior to British settlement, the hill used to be occupied by small settlements, and there’s documentation of Chinese, Malay, and Portuguese presence here. Under British rule, the hill housed the Governor. Overtime, due to security concerns, the hill took on more of a military rule and became Fort Canning. Right when we entered, we walked by the Battle Box, an old military bunker, which is 9m deep.

Fort Canning also houses a large reservoir (strictly off limits!) and a lot of the fortress was demolished to make way for the reservoir. However you’ll still find some remnants of the fort and military life, such as the fortress gate, soldiers’ barracks, and cannons.

As you’re wandering around the park, you’ll find cannons overlooking the city all around the fort (according to the placards, these were more decorative than defensive).

New Park

Fort Canning is on a small hill so be prepared for steep inclines and plenty of stairs! The park is almost organized like a layered cake. You can huff your way to the top or take a break and wander the circular walkways on each “layer.” At the top of Government Hill, you’ll find Raffles’ House, built as the residence of Sir Stamford Raffles.

In front of Raffles’ House is a flagstaff that was previously used to provide sailors with important information upon entering the Singapore harbor. You’ll also find a small lighthouse that became a key landmark for ships entering the harbor. It looks rather small, but I guess with the elevation of the hill, the lighthouse was quite a prominent landmark.

All in all, this was a really fun walk! You’ll get a gorgeous view of the city from all angles and you also learn a bit about the history of Singapore along the way. I want to point out that this is a popular hangout spot for domestic workers who have the day off so you’ll run into a lot of outdoor picnics and maybe some couples canoodling in the various nooks and crannies. We went in the afternoon on a Sunday, which was probably the busiest time in the park. I would go back again but I’d aim for a Saturday afternoon or Sunday morning to enjoy a challenging and crowd-free run through the park.

Will you be taking a walk through Fort Canning? If you’re interested, National Parks has a digital guide that can take you through all the key colonial points. Hope you enjoy your stroll through history!


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