The National Monument of Indonesia, also known as Monas, proudly stands at 132 meters in the middle of the Merdeka Square in Gambir, Jakarta. The top of the tower, which is designed like a flame, is enveloped by 35 kilograms of gold foil and is illuminated during the night. Below this flame is an observation deck that gives a commanding view of the landscape. More than a beautiful piece of architecture, the structure is a symbol and reminder of the nation’s struggle to win independence. The tower’s local name, Monas, is a contracted form of the words Monumen Nasional.
The tower was a project of President Sukarno. Driven by a vision to have a united Indonesia, President Sukarno undertook the construction of the monument in the hope of creating a national symbol that would remind all Indonesia about the precious freedom that they have fought for and eventually won. The first president of the nation was known to promote unification among the people, as can be seen in other projects that he supported, such as the Istiqlal Mosque. Although the construction of the Monas began in 1961, it was not until 1975 that it was completed.
The National Monument can be reached through the northern part of the Merdeka Square. At the base of the tower, you will see the National History Museum, which occupies an area of 6,400 square meters. The museum, from its floor to its walls and pillars, is covered in marble. It features 51 dioramas showing important historical events from prehistoric Indonesia until the time of the New Order.
You will find an underground passageway at the base of the tower that leads to the outer yard. The walls of the outer yard are designed with relief sculptures that depict important events that occurred in Indonesia starting from the time of the Majapahit Empire. Events involving the colonial times are also included, as well as Indonesia’s proclamation of independence, the installation of President Sukarno, and the eventual government transition to President Suharto.
Going up through the base of the National Monument, you will find the Hall of Independence, a room covered in black marble. Inside this hall, a golden door opens to display the original proclamation of independence encased in glass. As you enter the doors, you will hear an actual recording of President Sukarno reading the proclamation, a momentous event that took place in 1945. Also displayed in the Hall of Independence are the National Emblem of Indonesia and a map of the archipelago, which is made of gold.
The Merdeka Square is open from 8 am to 6pm every day while the monument is open from 8 am to 3pm every day except on the last Monday of each month. It is best to take a taxi if you want to go to the National Monument. If you wish to take the bus, you may take the TransJakarta Busway and board buses with the Blok M-Kota Tua route. The monument is near other tourist spots, such as Museum Nasional, the Presidential Palace, and the Golden Chariot Sculpture.