Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka)
Merdeka Square © Adam Carr
The 328-foot (100m) flagpole rising from Merdeka Square is one of the tallest in the world, and marks the place where Malaysia achieved independence at midnight on the 30th of August 1957. The square is the heart of Malaysian nationalism and one of the few places in the city where historic old colonial buildings can still be seen. The city's colonial past is still very much alive in the architecture of the surrounding buildings and the large field still hosts the occasional cricket matches. The Tudor-style Royal Selangor Club rests on one corner of the square, looking onto a large video screen displaying religious messages and advertisements. The Club served as a social centre for Kuala Lumpur's British residents; its doors are now open to anyone who can afford the membership fees. In keeping with die-hard customs women are still not allowed entry to the bar, except by invitation. Other buildings of interest around the square include St. Mary's Church, purported to be the first church built in Kuala Lumpur; the Abdul Sambad building, built in 1893 and named for one of the sultans; the High Court building; and the old Town Hall. There are some shops and restaurants in the vicinity and it is an interesting area to stroll around - the square is also nice to visit at night.