Merdeka Square is undoubtedly KL’s best known landmark. Also called Dataran Merdeka, it is set in front of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building (the former State Secretariat). Directly in front is the Royal Selangor Club and to the north is St. Mary’s Church, one of Malaysia’s oldest Anglican churches.
Within the colonial core of Kuala Lumpur, where the remnants of the British empire are especially evident, Merdeka Square seems to be nothing more than a giant field with perfectly manicured green lawns and a centrepiece of the tallest flagpole in the world (95m) proudly displaying the Jalur Gemilang (Malaysian flag). At the corner of Jalan Tuanku Abdul Rahman and Jalan Raja Laut, Merdeka Square is made up of a padang (field) that was once the Selangor Club cricket pitch.
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Colonial Core Surounding Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur
Despite numerous changes to its landscape over the years, Kuala Lumpur has retained its majestic charm with Merdeka Square and its colonial surroundings at its heart. The beautifully-tended, 200m-long padang is the most famous stretch of green in KL – it was here that Malaysia proclaimed merdeka (freedom or independence) on August 31st, 1957. Beside the lofty flagpole is a giant TV screen with a mix of flashing advertisements and religious messages.
Royal Selangor Club at Merdeka Square in Kuala Lumpur
The venue for Malaysia’s annual Merdeka Parade (Independence Day) celebration, Merdeka Square hosts rock concerts and underneath the pitch is the Plaza Putra shopping complex. Meanwhile, directly opposite is the very British Tudor-inspired Royal Selangor Club: built in 1884 it was the favourite watering hole of the British elite and the centre of colonial society in its heyday. The frequent backdrop in most sightseeing photos of Merdeka Square, much of it was destroyed in a fire in the 1960s. The rebuilt club is still a favourite haunt of KL VIPs. The low, black-and-white mock-Tudor building used to be called ‘the Spotted Dog’ in memory of its mascot – a Dalmatian belonging to a former member. Though membership is open to anyone who can afford it, RSC’s colonial saloon is still an exclusive haunt and remains an all-male preserve.
Merdeka Square Kuala Lumpur