Historic Merdeka Square (also known as 'Dataran Merdeka') is the heartbeat of Kuala Lumpur. This large plaza not only houses some of the most important buildings in the city, but was also the sight of Malaysia’s declaration of independence from British rule. A former cricket pitch, Merdeka Square is close to many of KL’s premier attractions.
At midnight on August 31, 1957, Malaysians hoisted the new flag of Malay over Merdeka Square for the first time, in celebration of the country’s liberation from the British. Since then, the Jalur Gemilang (the official name of the Malaysian flag) has had a long way to climb, as it flies from the tallest flagpole in the world – 95 metres high – in the centre of the square.
History and architecture buffs alike will appreciate the photo opportunities here, from the flag waving over the palm trees and landmarks to the many striking building styles that surround the green, including Colonial, Tudor, Moorish and Mogul. Especially impressive is the Sultan Abdul Samad Building with its 41-metre-high clock tower. And don’t miss its copper domes lit up at night.
Check out the pretty Art Nouveau tile work around the 100-year-old Victorian Fountain. Step back in time when you walk into the Royal Selangor Club, affectionately known to locals as ‘The Dog’. The building was originally home to an exclusive club for the British expat community, who enjoyed their rugby and cricket matches on the large, green field. Make a booking to enjoy a special drink at the Long Bar.
Three train lines run through the Masjid Jamek train station, a short walk from Merdeka Square. Although you can easily tour the square on your own, consider booking the educational and free Dataran Merdeka heritage tour that KL City Hall offers on Saturday, Monday and Wednesday mornings at 9:15am.