Kuching Heritage: Historical buildings and sites in Kuching

When you visit Kuching and take a look around the city centre, you probably noticed some historical buildings around. These historical buildings are mostly over 100 years old, and had been there since the Brooke government era.

The most famous historical building in Kuching is the Old Kuching Courthouse. It was built on 1871, and was used as the administrative centre of Sarawak government until 1973. Nowadays, it houses Sarawak Tourism Complex, few restaurants such as ChinaHouse.

Old Kuching Courthouse

Across the road from the Old Courthouse, you can see the Square Tower. It was completed in 1879, and served as sentry posts on each side of the Sarawak River; along with Fort Margherita. The tower had been converted to a dancing hall used by the Brooke’s officers and servants during most of the weekends when they were in Kuching.

Square Tower

Across the river, there is a fort called Fort Margherita; named after Ranee Margaret, the wife of Charles Brooke. The fort was built there as the location is ideal for sentry point as it overlooks Kuching and the river. However, you might not be able to see it if you are near The Square Tower as there are trees around it. You can see it if you walk further towards the Malay village.

Fort Margherita (side view)

The Astana, also situated across the river, was the private residence of the Rajah Charles Brooke. It was built as a wedding gift to his beloved wife, Margaret Brooke, The Ranee of Sarawak. Now, it is the official residence of the Governor of Sarawak after undergone major renovations and alterations.

Astana (side view)

A few metres from the Old Courthouse, you can see The Pavilion. It was originally used as the medical headquarter, then later it was converted to the headquarters of the Education Department. The building had been conserved and is currently used by the Museum Department as their Textile Museum.

The Pavilion

Across the road from The Pavilion, there is The Main Post Office building, but originally was once used for a police station and also the Rajah’s Stables. It was built in 1931.

The Main Post Office building

When you walk along the Main Bazaar from the Old Courthouse, you will notice there is a Chinese Temple at the end of the bazaar. It is called Tua Pek Kong Temple. The temple was believed to have been built by the Chinese migrants from Kalimantan, Indonesia before 1839. There are two other temples in that area which are Guan Thian Siang Ti Temple (1889) and Kueh Seng Onn Temple (1895). The other two temples are located along Carpenter Street.

Tua Pek Kong Temple

Opposite of the Tua Pek Kong Temple, you can see the Old Chinese Court. It was built in  1912 and was used originally by the Chinese community as a court to administer the laws and customs on marriage, divorce and probate, but later dissolved in 1921. The Chinese Chamber of Commerce used the building as their office in 1930 until 1990. In 1993, the Sarawak Museum had set up the Chinese History Museum here, displaying the history of Chinese settlement in Sarawak.

Old Chinese Court

Besides colonial design and structures, there are also historical streets such as Main Bazaar and India Street. The former is one of the oldest streets of Kuching.  Now, it is a tourist attraction as there are rows of outlets selling variety of antiques and handicrafts. Kai Joo Lane recently opened up its lane for night market on Friday to Saturday from 5:00 pm onwards.

In its early days the majority of traders at India Street were Indian migrants involved in trading textiles, brassware, spices and market goods. The street is famous for shops supplying textile and spices besides shops selling daily provisions, food and clothes stores at every available space of the street.

One of the must visit place in Kuching is the Waterfront. It has undergone several transformations. From a small settlement of modest ‘atap’ buildings, to a busy port with warehouses and wharfs, and to the landscape riverside walk as it is today. The waterfront is always bustling with people, but the one event that most people like to attend is the annual Sarawak Regatta. During this event, the road will be closed and there will be many stalls around.  The tradition of holding the annual Regatta in the Sarawak River continued through the colonial period and into the post-Malaysia period, until today.

In conclusion, above is a bit of the history of Kuching city for you before you visit us here in Kuching. To find out more about Kuching tour, you can visit our website here: https://goo.gl/cI4AJ2

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