A surprising green space in the heart of Singapore, Fort Canning Park is one of the city’s most significant historical landmarks. Here it is possible to escape the busy city for an afternoon with plenty of walking trails and unusual plants. It is also home to Battle Box, an interesting underground tunnel complex from the Second World War. Situated behind the Singapore History Museum at Stamford Road, you can get into Fort Canning via several accesses - the Park Mall underpass, the National Library underpass, the Hill Street Food Centre and the River Valley Swimming Complex.
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Besides being a welcome respite of quiet greenery in the city, it is also a historic area. In ancient times, Fort Canning Hill was known as Forbidden Hill, and archaeologists have found Javanese artefacts dating from the 14th century, when Singapore was part of the Majapahit empire. The hill, sacred to the Malays, also contains the shrine of Sultan Iskandar Shah, the last monarch of the old kingdom of Singapura. When Stamford Raffles came to Singapore, he built his home here - later known as Government House - on top of the hill. The British army, between 1859 and 1861, built an arms store, barracks and hospitals, and the buildings became known as Fort Canning. Today, only ruins of the fort are left, along with several well-preserved underground tunnels. The fort is surrounded by a quiet park which also holds an old Christian cemetery. The short but heartfelt inscriptions on the tombstones give a compelling, even touching, glimpse of Singapore's early colonial settlers.
These days, Fort Canning is a common venue for outdoor arts events. Ballet Under the Stars is a regular feature, while many of Singapore's young dramatists have made clever use of the historic ruins as a backdrop for their plays. The Singapore Drama Centre is situated at the bottom of the hill, while the Singapore Dance Theatre is found in Fort Canning Centre at the summit. In recent years, Fort Canning has become the site for the highly popular Womad, an annual event featuring World Music performers from all over the globe. You will also found the Battle Box, situated inside what used to be the largest underground military operations complex in Singapore. The complex was part of the Malaya Command Headquarters during World War II. The Battle Box reenacts, with the aid of video and sound effects, animatronics and figurines the fateful day on February 15, 1942 that British officers decided to surrender Singapore to the Japanese.
Fort Canning Park
- Opening Hours: Daily 24 hours
- MRT: City Hall
- Address: 70 River Valley Road, Singapore 179037