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Walking Through History

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Rediscover our past and unearth precious memories by going on these specially curated heritage trails.

With the pandemic, more people have been exploring their own backyard. If you haven’t already done so, we recommend that you check out some of the self-guided trails put together by the National Heritage Board.

Malay Heritage Centre

Kampong Glam was where Malay royalty once resided. For the trail, you can start at the Malay Heritage Centre at Istana Kampong Glam, a former palace. Next to it is Gedung Kuning, which means “yellow mansion” in Malay; for a time, it was the residence of Sultan Hussein’s grandson, Tunku Mahmood. Soon, you’ll come across Sultan Gate, where blacksmiths and foundries were once located. The trail takes you through fascinating shops, such as the 89-year-old Jamal Kazura Aromatics and Wardah Books on Bussorah Street, as well as long-established restaurants like Zam-Zam and Islamic. It ends at the much-photographed golden-domed Masjid Sultan.

Masjid Sultan

This trail begins and ends at the Tiong Bahru Market, which originated in 1945, when two shophouses started selling fresh produce. The trail takes you past the area’s 1930s Art Deco flats, from the uncluttered lines and porthole windows of the Streamline Moderne flats in Tiong Poh Road to the distinctive Horseshoe Block that curves across Moh Guan Terrace and Guan Chuan Street. Along the way, you will spot murals depicting street scenes from the past; you’ll also come across the century-old Monkey God Temple on Eng Hoon Street. Also included in the trail are the tombs of Tan Tock Seng, one of Singapore’s eminent philanthropists, his daughter-in-law Chua Seah Neo, and granddaughter-in-law Wuing Neo.

Tiong Bahru Market
Uncluttered lines and porthole windows of the Streamline Moderne flats in Tiong Bahru

This trail starts at the Sun Yat Sen Memorial Hall, followed by the Maha Sasanaramsi Burmese Buddhist Temple. Along the way, you’ll come across the Shaw Brothers Film Studio in Jalan Ampas, where P Ramlee shot many of his classic movies. Stop for a breather at the Balestier Market, built in 1922. Another landmark here is the Goh Chor Tua Pek Kong Temple, established in 1847 by Hokkien workers employed at a sugar cane estate owned by Joseph Balestier, the first American consul to colonial Singapore. Next to it is the only surviving permanent wayang stage on the island. Across the road are Art Deco apartments and the Sim Kwong Ho shophouses, between which are the famous Lam Yeo Coffee Powder Company and Loy Kee Best Chicken Rice.

Statue of Sun Yat Sen at his Memorial Hall
The Sim Kwong Ho shophouses (photo courtesy of Roots / NHB)

Tucked away on the northern end of the island, Sembawang once occupied a central role not just in Singapore but also the British Empire, as it was a naval base that repaired Royal Navy warships and housed thousands of sailors from Britain’s Far East fleet. The Sembawang trail starts at the Holy Tree Sri Balasubramaniar Temple at Canberra Link, followed by the Sembawang Hot Spring Park on Gambas Avenue, before making a loop to the former Admiralty House, which was constructed between 1939 and 1940 by the British Royal Navy. It also covers the Sembawang Shipyard, colonial-era houses, and Beaulieu House, the holiday residence of Jewish businessman Joseph Brooke David built in the 1910s.

Beaulieu House
Sembawang Hot Spring Park

Do you know that Singapore have a number of Heritage Trails that are available to be explored? If you are interested, you can visit https://www.roots.gov.sg/nhb/trails for more information on these trails!

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