Sunday, May 20, 2007

Sarawak - Colonial District !!!

As promise, here I post again some information on Sarawak for those who love to know more especially Lizzy, Chelle and Susimac who looking forward to my next installment.

Here goes :
There are many old buildings in the Colonial District of Kuching which survived World War II.

Completed in 1879, Fort Margarita commands a breathtaking and strategic position along the Sarawak River, with a location chosen to overlook the long stretch of river approaching Kuching. Named after the second Rajah, Charles Brooke's wife, the Ranee Margaret, it was built in the defensive edifice/castle style of the late English renaissance. Fort Margherita has been converted into a Police Museum and many of its old cannons, cannon balls, guns, pistols, swords and other vestiges of its artillery can still be seen. The armoury still exists as does the condemned prisoner's cell. The Police Museum has a display of old police weapons, reconstructed opium dens and scenes of hanging and other forms of criminal punishment.

The Astana which lies in regal splendour accross the river, is a majestic building with romantic history. The second Rajah, Charles Brooke, built this palace in 1870 as a birdal gift for his wife, the Ranee Margaret. Then known as the Goverment House, it is actually three separate buildings fused into one, with each connected to the other by short and narrow passageways. First occupied by Charles Brooke in 1870, it was the private residence of the second Rajah. It has undergone substantial alterations and renovations and is today the official residence of the Yang di-Pertua Negeri, the Governor of Sarawak.

Built in 1930, this was previously the office and warehouse of the Sarawak Steamship company. Extensively restored, its now houses a restaurant, a fast food outlet and a convenience store.

This 1931 building stands out majestically with its imposing neoclassical style and impressive Corinthian columns. In contrast to its ornate facade with semi-circular arches, ornamental columns capitals and friezes, the back of the building is plain and unadorned. Deep parapet walls of plain design hide the pitched root. A colonnaded portico serves as a corridor in front of the building. This will soon be converted into the Sarawak Art Museum.

The Court House was built in 1874 to bring together all government offices and be the venue for all state ceremonies. State council meetings were held here from the fifth council meeting in 1878 until 1973. Befitting its status, this is an impressive building with belian (iron wood) roof and is decorated with beautiful engravings reflecting local art form. It now houses the High Court, the Magistrate's Court and several government departments. Back in 1847, this was originally the site of a missionary which was turned into a judicial administration office. It was demolised in 1858 and two more buildings were put up in its place before the Court House came into being.

Constructed in 1886, the reason for the building of the Round Tower remains a mystery. Because of its structure, it is claimed the building was meant to serve as a fort in an emergency. Instead it became the Dispensary and was then used by the Labour Department until 1980. It now houses a section of the Judicary department. In earlier days, the Round Tower was strategically located to provide an excellent view of the town.

Next to the Round Tower is The Pavilion, which was built in 1909. Regarded as something of an architectural enigma, its design is reminiscent of buildings in the sounthern states of America - a mixture of late English renaissancce and colonial architecture. It served as a General Hospital until 1947. Now, the building is turned into a textile museum.

Built in 1879 as a detention camp for prisoners, the square tower was later converted into a fortress and then a dance hall. Today it is a multimedia information centre and video theatre providing information on Sarawak's tourist attraction.

Till my next installment, friend.

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