The Istana (“Palace in Malay”) is the official residence and office of the President of Singapore. It is also where the president receives and entertains state guests and as well as the working office of the Prime Minister of Singapore. It is located within a large compound along the bustling Orchard Road.

The Istana is built in the 18th Century, modelled after the neo-Palladian style with a tropical layout, similar to a Malay House. It is surrounded by verandahs, louvred windows and panelled doors to promote cross ventilation, giving rise to an airy and cool interior.

The complex was built by the British Colonial Government to house its Governors. Completed in 1869, it was then known as the Government House. During the Japanese occupation (1942-1945), the house was occupied by Field Marshal Count Terauchi, commander of the Japanese Southern Army, and Major General Kawamura, commander of the Singapore Defense Forces. In 1959, the building was handed over to the Singapore Government when Singapore gained self government. It was renamed as the Istana.

Istana Hari Raya Open House

The Istana ground is open to the public five times a year in celebration of Chinese New Year; Deepavali; Hari Raya Puasa; Labour Day; and National Day. I was hoping for some goodie bags but received none =)

The Open House was from 830 am to 6 pm. We reached at around 4 pm in the afternoon but the queue to get in was still very long. Admission to the Istana grounds was free for Singaporeans and Permanent Residents. Foreigners had to pay an entrance fee of $1 per person. All proceeds from the entrance fees collected went to the Community Chest.

On the first Sunday of the month, there is a Changing of the Guards parade. The format of the Ceremony is based on the British Changing of Guards Ceremony at Buckingham Palace, England.

Cameras and video cams were allowed to be brought into the compound. Sorry smokers- apparently our president is not camera shy but cannot tolerate the cigarette smell.

Even though it is an open house, not all the areas are accessible to the public. In fact, only the middle portion of the Istana ground is opened to public. All the buildings except the ground floor of the main Istana building (entrance fee $2 payable) is out of bounds.

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