I may have once said that Singapore Botanic Gardens was my favorite city park. Well, I lied. Fort Canning Park is my favorite city park.
We spent the other evening picnicking in this small, hilly green space in the center of town. I love everything about Fort Canning Park, including its views of the Central Business District and its cultural and military history. The highlights of a visit to Fort Canning Park, for me, are: the Spice Garden, a replica of the first experimental botanical garden in Singapore; Keramat Iskandar Shah, a sacred place dedicated to Iskandar Shah, the last ruler of 14th century Singapore; and the Archaeological Excavation Site, from which porcelain, earthenware, and glass artifacts have been recovered.
(Fort Canning Park—its hills, its vistas, its history—also reminds me of my favorite New York City haunt, Fort Tryon Park. So, there’s that.)
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I recently got my hands on Fort Canning Hill: Exploring Singapore’s Heritage and Nature by Melissa Diagana and Jyoti Angresh, a gorgeous coffee table book. The volume details the park’s well-known and lesser-known history and the diversity of its flora and fauna.
The book offers heritage-enthusiasts and nature-lovers a snapshot of Fort Canning Park’s military, architectural, commercial, and natural history. It’s a light read and is full of interesting trivia. But it zooms through nearly 700 years of history and offers just four pages about public art installations in the park. While it’s a welcome addition to our ever-growing “Singapore” library, I wish it were more comprehensive! Still, I urge you to take a look. Fort Canning Park is a national treasure, IMHO, but quite underappreciated. Fort Canning Hill: Exploring Singapore’s Heritage and Nature is a great introduction to the significance and value of this gem in the heart of the city.
(Many thanks to Melanie Lee for sending this book my way.)