Malaysia’s capital city may have gained its popularity with flashy, modern megastructures, but historic Kuala Lumpur landmarks are a huge reason why tourists love this former mining town. Reminders of the city’s heritage can be found all along KL’s state-of-the-art railway system, and many districts were built around historic events.
The construction of Petronas Towers had its challenges. First, due to foundation weaknesses, the towers were moved from their original location, seven years into construction. Then, when builders reached the 72nd floor, surveyors discovered the first tower was leaning nearly one inch (25 millimeters) off vertical. Architects corrected the lean by building the next 16 floors in the opposite direction.
1. Gaze over the entire city while standing on a swaying bridge between PETRONAS TOWERS
Kuala Lumpur’s most revered masterpiece dominates the city’s skyline at a height of 1,482.6 feet (451.9 meters). Designed with the country’s main religion at heart, the façade of the 88-story Petronas Towers consists of interlocking geometric patterns that symbolize Islamic principles of unity, harmony, stability and rationality. Yes, the towers hold the record of being the tallest twin towers in the world, but in addition, the double-decker bridge between the structures is also the world’s highest. But, yikes, the bridge actually isn’t connected to either tower at all! It moves in and out of both buildings to prevent damage when the towers sway to and fro during high winds.
Bonus attraction: The sky bridge is open to the public during business hours. Tickets are limited to 1,000 visitors per day.
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2. Look up at the world’s tallest flag pole, and learn about Malaysia’s claim to independence at MERDEKA SQUARE
Not only does KL contain the tallest twin towers, but also it lays claim to the tallest flag pole in the world! Stand on the spot where Malaysia first claimed its independence on August 31, 1957, at Merdeka Square, and explore its outskirts to find some of the city’s architectural jewels, like the Sultan Abdul Samad Building, Royal Selangor Club, Jamek Mosque (Masjid Jamek) and St. Mary’s Cathedral.
Bonus attraction: Take a selfie with the area’s newest landmark, the Countdown Clock, and even if reading isn’t on your agenda, the Kuala Lumpur Library will leave such a big impression that you’ll have your own story to tell!
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3. Admire incredible architecture at historic KUALA LUMPUR RAILWAY STATION
Even though you can’t catch a train from the platforms these days, you still should add a tour of Kuala Lumpur Railway Station to your itinerary. The iconic building, designed by British soldier and architect Arthur Benison Hubback, stands as one of KL’s most picturesque landmarks today. Built in 1910, the grand structure exudes an Indo-Saracenic style and joins a string of architectural wonders along Jalan Sultan Hishamuddin, formerly known as Victory Avenue.
Bonus attraction: Take a photo walk down the lane, and admire the National Mosque of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur Regional Centre for Arbitration and the Malayan Railway Administration Building, also designed by Hubback.
Check In to The Majestic Hotel Kuala Lumpur, Autograph Collection, Step Out to Kuala Lumpur Railway Station
4. Watch the changing of the guard in a former royal palace at ROYAL MUSEUM (‘OLD’ ISTANA NEGARA, JALAN ISTANA)
Also known as The Big House, the Royal Museum was built in 1928 by a Chinese millionaire who just needed a double-story mansion. In later years, however, the premises served as the residence of the Japanese governor and eventually evolved into the home of the Selangor State Government. The sultan of Selangor and the king of Malaya both lived in the palace for a while, but today, the grounds host royal ceremonies and foreign diplomats. The Royal Museum is closed to the public, but visitors gather daily to watch the changing of the guard at noon and take photos at the entrance.
Bonus attraction: Urban Orchard Park (Taman Dusun Bandar), featuring jogging paths, a playground and native orchards, naturally, is located just behind the Royal Museum.
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5. Photograph the impressive architecture of a Malaysian government complex at SULTAN ABDUL SAMAD BUILDING
Built entirely of native brick manufactured down the road in KL’s historical Brickfields, the Sultan Abdul Samad Building was constructed in the late 19th century to house the offices of the British colonial administration. The design is credited to British architect A.C. Norman, but historical records show that his Classical Renaissance style was not well received. The design was reworked by several assistants to reflect the Neo-Mughal style apparent today. The mammoth structure is easily spotted near Merdeka Square with its shiny copper dome and 134-foot-tall (41 meters) clock tower which houses a one-ton bell that tolls every 30 minutes.
Bonus attraction: Celebrate August 31 with locals during the annual Independence Day Parade.
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