The Merlion, the famous symbol of Singapore and after which the park is named, was brought to life in 1964 when it was designed as a symbol for the country’s tourism board. In 1972 a renowned Singaporean sculptor completed a large statue of the mythical creature with the lion’s head and fish body to stand by the entrance of the Singapore River. The construction of the Esplanade Bridge obstructed views of the country’s symbol and in 2000 it was moved to Merlion Park where it is an imposing presence on the Marina Bay waterfront. The features of the statue are a juxtaposition of Singapore’s origins as a fishing village and the city states initial name Singapura or lion city. The Singapore Tourism Board owns the copyright to the image of the Merlion and its approval is required for the use of the symbol.
One of the country’s popular tourist attractions, the 2,599 sq m. Merlion Park by the Singapore River is built around the original 8.6 meter 70 ton Merlion, seen famously spouting a jet of water, and its 2 meter three ton companion. Merlion Park is where most first time visitors to the city head to get their fist view of Marina Bay and which they use as a reference point while walking around the area, one of the most happening entertainment districts in Singapore. A viewing deck allows about 300 people at any one time to enjoy the views of the surrounding cityscape, made extraordinary by the addition of new high rises. Singapore River cruises set off from the pier adjacent to the statue and visitors can sit on the steps around the statue to take in vivid sunsets and watch the lights come on in the skyscrapers. Singapore is firmly linked with the image of the Merlion and it is hard to imagine any other symbol that epitomizes the quality of the city state so aptly.
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Thanuja Silva is a travel writer who writes under the pen name Auburn Silver. She has a passion for fashion and a deep interest in admiring new and exotic attractions around the world.