Fort Canning Park is an iconic hilltop landmark has witnessed many of Singapore’s historical milestones. The hill once sited the palaces of 14th century Kings and served as the Headquarters of the Far East Command Centre and British Army Barracks. The decision to surrender Singapore to the Japanese on 15 February 1942 was also made on the hill, in the Underground Far East Command Centre, commonly known as Battle Box.
Today, Fort Canning Park features nine historical gardens - the Pancur Larangan, Artisan’s Garden, Sang Nila Utama Garden, Jubilee Park (Phase 1), Raffles Garden, First Botanic Garden, Farquhar Garden, Spice Garden and Armenian Street Park.
Accompanying these gardens are wayfinding and trail guides which will allow visitors to plan their own trail and explore the hill at their own pace. Visitors can also download the augmented reality trail, BALIKSG: The Fort Canning Trail. The app will bring park visitors on an interactive journey through Fort Canning Park, revisiting the hill back when it was known as Bukit Larangan or Government Hill. The total length of the trail is about 2.5km, with eight checkpoints placed throughout the park including the various gardens. Visitors can look out for the AR marker in the park and start the app at any point.
To get to Fort Canning Park, visitors can make use of the covered escalators from Fort Canning MRT station and Bras Basah MRT station to the top of Fort Canning Park.
Fort Canning Park is a venue for celebrations. Its expansive, sprawling lawns play host to concerts, theatre productions and festivals such as Shakespeare in the Park, Ballet Under the Stars, Shakespeare in the Park and Films at the Fort, while weddings, parties and gatherings are a regular sight in the park's venue spaces. Its ancient artefacts are a must-see for history buffs, and its lush greenery and expansive lawns offer a variety of arts, heritage and nature experiences. Whether you are drawn by the park’s ancient artefacts and rich heritage or simply its tranquility, this hilltop park offers something for the whole family.
View here for the map of Fort Canning Park. Click here to read more about the enhanced Fort Canning Park.
As part of enhancement plans announced earlier this year to restore the rich history of Fort Canning Park, the National Parks Board (NParks) will be refreshing the Archaeological Dig exhibition for the first time in 17 years. First completed in 2001, the 17-year-old site houses an archaeological dig site, artefacts found around Fort Canning Park and educational panels on the history of the artefacts. NParks will be improving the exhibition area to allow for more hands-on interactive spaces. Interpretation panels on the various soil layers and embedded artefacts will also be updated and improved.
The historically significant site will include a new outdoor garden and the area will be renamed Artisan’s Garden as it is believed to be the site of a 14th century palace workshop. The existing shelter of the exhibition will be expanded to include a wider gallery space, new interpretative panels and display showcases. There will be three zones within the new site. The first zone will have an introduction to the site as well as an open space for workshops. There will also be a sand pit where organised groups can experience simulated hands-on archaeological excavation activities. The second zone will have multimedia educational panels on the artefacts including recent discoveries, giving a glimpse of past life on the hill. Artefacts from the 14th to 19th centuries will also be on display. The third zone will feature interactive educational play features for visitors of all ages to learn about archaeology and the history of the site. As part of educational opportunities for visitors to learn more about archaeology and the history of Fort Canning Park, NParks will also be developing a range of archaeology-related programmes and activities.
The site will be closed from November 2018 and reopened in June 2019.
Three historical gardens will be recreated as part of efforts to restore the rich heritage of Fort Canning Park and its surroundings. The three gardens within and around Fort Canning Park make up the heritage landscapes of Fort Canning Hill, and include Singapore’s first botanic garden. The National Parks Board (NParks) will create these gardens as part of sensitive enhancements to Fort Canning Park to emphasise Fort Canning’s historical features. Enhancements will be accompanied by the introduction of a greater variety of education and outreach programmes, and enhanced accessibility to the park.
Fort Canning Centre will also be repurposed as a gallery for visitors to learn more about the history of the hill and its surroundings. Members of the public are invited to volunteer at park programmes and give suggestions on the upcoming enhancements.
As one of Singapore’s two National Parks, Fort Canning Park is deeply rooted in history, from the time of the 14th century kings to the founding of modern Singapore. The enhancements will highlight the significance of Fort Canning Hill and retrace the history of Singapore across the 14th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The heritage landscapes of Fort Canning Hill and its surroundings will be restored and weaved seamlessly into Fort Canning Park with the creation of three gardens, namely the Royal Garden, the First Botanic Garden, and Jubilee Park.
The First Botanic Garden, which was established by Sir Stamford Raffles in 1822 to also serve as an experimental garden, will extend from Fort Canning Park onto the streetscapes of roads bounded by Hill Street, Victoria Street, Bras Basah Road, Handy Road and Canning Rise. As part of the First Botanic Garden, a large part of Armenian Street will be pedestrianised and turned into a park featuring plants that were introduced as economic crops for the spice trade, food and horticulture. Economic crops such as nutmeg were cultivated in the First Botanic Garden before they were propagated across Singapore in the 1800s. The new park at Armenian Street is part of a multi-agency effort by URA, NParks, PUB, LTA, NHB and NAC in close collaboration with stakeholders within the vicinity to create new vibrant public spaces that visitors can enjoy. The new park at Armenian Street and wider sidewalks along Coleman Street will also enable visitors to walk comfortably from Armenian Street to Civic District, linking Fort Canning Park, Bras Basah.Bugis and the Civic District together into an expanded arts, cultural and heritage district.
NParks is also planning a greater variety of education and outreach programmes, including re-curation of existing heritage trails of the 14th and 19th centuries. These trails will be enhanced to interpret the rich history of Fort Canning Park and feature new nodes. The 14th century trail will feature the Forbidden Spring or Pancur Laranganwhich is believed to be the bathing site of the royals. The refreshed 19th century trail will feature the restored Raffles Garden and Farquhar Garden, which will showcase plants collected and documented by Sir Stamford Raffles and Singapore’s First Resident William Farquhar through their botanical explorations.
“Jubilee Park” will be restored where the King George V Jubilee Park was originally located at the junction of River Valley Road and Clemenceau Avenue. The park will avail more outdoor family-friendly venues for arts and culture activities in a garden setting. New amenities will include play features, a landscaped theatre and an event lawn.
Find out more about this restoration project here.
Maison Ikkoku, voted & awarded as the "BEST COCKTAIL BAR" by the people of Singapore, has opened a new outlet at the Fort Canning Arts Centre.
Established in 2011, Maison Ikkoku is famously known for its NO MENU bespoke cocktail concept. At FORT, Executive Chef and Senior Master Mixologist, Ethan Leslie Leong applies his legendary cocktail techniques with a balanced selection of food, from soups to salads, cocktail carpaccio to handrolled maki, signature dishes & desserts. Patrons will have the opportunity to witness both artisanal chef & mixologist crafting in action.
Before the opening of Fort, Ethan went to Zurich to upgrade his culinary skills. It was this travel experience that inspired him to create FORT's menu. He spent 4 months perfecting the 6 course cocktail pairing dinner that delivers a "multi-sensory dining experience". "It was time for me to create an entire dining experience" said Chef Ethan who switched from culinary to mixology in 1995. Watch for signature dishes such as "The Sea" that brings out the aroma, taste and visuals of the deep blue ocean using sea salt sorbet, seaweed, scallop, oyster and salmon roe.
The cocktails at FORT focus on “taste profile development” – a different style of cocktail mixing, using techniques such as distillation, infusion, spherification, dehydration, emulsion, smoking and house made Tonic Water.
The restaurant’s interior is also designed by Ethan and is an eccentric mix of ancient industrial with a touch of chic using combinations of Railway Sleepers, Copper, Edison Filament and Red Velvet.
Named after Honoré de Balzac, the famous French novelist and playwright, the new Balzac Brasserie in Rendezvous Gallery serves up a slice of Paris the way its namesake does. Serving rustic French bistro classics, Balzac Brasserie is unpretentious and unassuming, but done with an amazing attention to details.
Taking over Fort Canning Arts Centre, the Pinacothèque’s inaugural feature exhibition is The Myth of Cleopatra. Restellini believes the powerful pharaoh was a figure who captivated generations of artists, scholars, historians… and even fancy dress partygoers. Over 200 works are showcased, – from archaeological artefacts to theatre props – that are related to or inspired by Cleopatra. Also included is the funeral mask, ‘designed to cover the face of the mummies in the burial ceremonies; judging by its size, this mask in particular was designed for a child,’ explains Restellini.
Close to 50 masterpieces – such as those by Rembrandt van Rijn, Claude Monet and Jackson Pollock – from private collections make up the permanent collection. A Heritage Gallery celebrating the history of Fort Canning offers free entry, while the Singapore Pinacothèque Art Academy will provide workshops and lectures. The Features Gallery is expected to rotate its shows two to three times a year.
A new 8km-long Jubilee Walk has been launched. It covers historic locations in the civic district and the Marina Bay are and a new pedestrian bridge that stretches from the Merlion Park to Marina Promenade, in front of the Esplanade Theatres.
The existing Esplanade Bridge was too narrow for pedestrians. Now with the Jubilee Bridge, you can stroll comfortably across the Singapore River.
The Jubilee Walk is identified by trail and monument markers and three new public art works to commemorate SG50.