Rising prominently in the center of Jalan Raja in Kuala Lumpur, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building is a famous landmark in Malaysia. It was built in 1894 and was named after the then Sultan of Selangor when it was finished in 1897.
It stands in front of the Dataran Merdeka or the Independence Square and is near the Royal Selangor Club. In the back, the Klang River and the Gombak River with the Masjid Jamek (or Jamek Mosque) in the middle, provide an interesting backdrop for the building. Running 400 feet long laterally on Jalan Raja, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building mirrors the architecture and design of the buildings around. Like the Masjid Jamek, it was designed by a British architect, A.C. Norman.
The building is predominantly Moorish in design, with a hint of Islamic design that portrays the cultural beliefs of the country. The verandahs surrounding the building have pointed arches, ogee arches, horse-shoe arches, multi-foil arch and four-centered arch. These ornate curved decorations of the building acted as a precursor to the many Moghal-designed buildings that follow.
It also has a tower clock capped with a golden dome, with two smaller domes for the two smaller buildings on its sides. This 40-meter high tower clock that everyone fondly calls “Big Ben” has been a witness to many historical events in the country like the lowering of the Union Jack flag, the declaration of independence of the country from the British rule, the synchronization of time in West Malaysia, Sabah, Sarawak and Singapore and so many other celebrations that are held in the square every year, like the New Year’s countdown where its time plays an important role in the festivities.
Nowadays, when there are celebrations in the country, the tower and the domes are decorated with tiny twinkling lights that make the building a delightful and a pleasant sight. The street Jalan Raja would also be closed for the night. Thus it is best to consider visiting when there are state occasions in the country.
The Sultan Abdul Samad Building was originally built to house several administrative departments of the country. The Apex Court of Malaysia, the Supreme Court (now called Federal Court) and the Court of Appeals used to call this building their home. Now the Federal Court and the Court of Appeals are found in the Palace of Justice in Putrajaya, the new Federal administrative seat of the government, while the Apex Court of Malaysia has moved to the Kuala Lumpur Courts Complex.
Today, the building houses offices of the Ministry of Information, Communications and Culture of Malaysia, the Commercial Division of the High Court of Malaya, and the Textile Museum.
If you’re a lover of everything beautiful, you will surely appreciate the splendor of the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. With the many interesting structures of generally the same architecture around, you will surely enjoy your trip to the Islamic historical and cultural side of Malaysia. The surroundings would make for an excellent background too in the pictures you can show back home.