Merdeka Square (Dataran Merdeka)
Merdeka Square © Adam Carr
At 328 feet (100m), the flagpole rising from Merdeka Square is one of the tallest in the world. More importantly, it marks the place where Malaysia achieved independence at midnight on the 31th of August 1957. The square remains the heart of Malaysian nationalism, and one of the few places in Kuala Lumpur where colonial buildings still stand. Indeed, the city's colonial past is very much alive in the architecture and large field - which still hosts the occasional cricket match. The Tudor-style Royal Selangor Club rests on one corner of the square, and looks onto a large video screen displaying adverts and religious messages. Once a social centre for Kuala Lumpur's British residents, its doors are now open to anyone who can afford the membership fees. As die-hard custom dictates, women are not allowed to enter the bar, save by invitation. Other buildings of interest around the square include St. Mary's Church, which is supposedly the first church built in the city, and the Abdul Sambad building, which was built for one of the sultans. Travellers will also find some shops and restaurants in the area.