Emerald Hill Road

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Time Required: 1 - 2 hours

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Emerald Hill Road, Singapore Overview

Breathtaking architecture, quaint shophouses and beautiful heritage buildings make Emerald Hill Road one of Singapore's hidden gems. Emerald Hill Road has a colourful and tumultuous history, involving Chinese immigrants, English settlers and for a major part, Peranakan settlers. Influential Peranakan settlers bought houses along Emerald Hill Road, and this influenced the culture and architecture of the Road greatly, giving it the beautiful terrace houses it is now famous for.

Today, the tree-lined boulevard consists of modern and trendy bars and terrace houses occupied by Singapore's rich and affluent. Emerald Hill Road makes for a picture postcard neighbourhood as it is a verdant stretch, quiet and peaceful. It stands in stark contrast to its immediate neighbour, Orchard Road which is one of Singapore's main shopping areas and is always full of hustle and bustle. The essence of Emerald Hill Road lies in the structural design of its terrace and shop houses, all of which were built in the early 1900s and reflect the beauty and grandeur of that age. The large mansions with their majestic frontage, intricately carved wooden decorations and extraordinarily big entrance gates work together to transport the visitor back in time. Many visitors discover the architectural beauty of Emerald Hill Road, when they wander, almost by accident, onto this tranquil road with its quirky bars, colonial terrace houses and red-bricked souvenir shops.

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Emerald Hill Road first had pepper plantations cultivated by Chinese immigrants in the 1800s. Soon after, it changed hands and became a nutmeg plantation which failed in the 1860s, due to a terrible disease. An orchard was then built on Emerald Hill Road, which failed too; and by 1924 the cottages on the Road were being replaced by terrace houses. Influential Peranakan settlers bought houses along Emerald Hill Road, and this influenced the culture and architecture of the Road greatly.

The major attraction of Emerald Hill Road is its beautiful and breathtaking architecture. Providing a pleasant break from the high rises of Singapore, the stunning terrace and shophouses along Emerald Hill Road are reminiscent of old colonial heritage. Most of the properties along the Road were built during the early 20th century, mostly between 1905- 1925, and although the current homeowners can renovate the interiors, they must maintain the original exteriors. Shophouses and terrace houses which line Emerald Hill Road are built along the Chinese Baroque and art deco architectural styles. Visitors will be struck by the beauty of the magnificent entrance doors, the carved wooden window shutters and the elaborately adorned cornices and horizontal bands on the terrace and shophouses.

Several homeowners on Emerald Hill Road allow tours of their houses on special request. There are several popular terrace homes in this gorgeous neighbourhood which visitors flock to. These include Number 56, which was built in 1902, and is one of the oldest buildings on the Road. Number 39 to 45 are also worth a visit, with exotic wide frontages and grandiose entrance gates built in the Chinese style of architecture. Number 120 to 130 are popular due to their art deco forms which date back to 1925.

Emerald Hill Road is right around the corner from Orchard Road which is one of Singapore's major shopping destinations. There is a cluster of popular bars and restaurants like the Alley Bar situated right where Emerald Hill Road turns into Orchard Road. Many terrace houses on Emerald Hill Road itself, have been converted to chic and stylish bars. Famous bars include No. 5 Emerald Hill Cocktail Bar which has serves some of the best martinis and Singapore Slings and the Ice Cold Beer Bar. Emerald Hill Road is better known for its bars rather than eateries and is a good place to go bar hopping with friends. Very popular among tourists and locales, the pubs overflow with life and gaiety which last till the wee hours of the morning.

One of the most popular activities that visitors indulge in is photography on Emerald Hill Road. Photoshoots are routine in this quiet and peaceful neighbourhood, so much so, that residents have claimed that there were nearly three photoshoots taking place on the same day. Emerald Hill Road is littered with professional photographers as well as amateurs, all of whom are captivated by the exquisite and elegant architecture splashed all along this frangipani scented Road.

The author Goh Sin Tub featured Emerald Hill Road in many of his works like The Nan-Mei-Su Girls of Emerald Hill and The Ghost Lover of Emerald Hill. Emerald Hill Road also played a prominent part in the play 'Emily of Emerald Hill' written by Stella Kon in which she described in great detail, the beautiful homes, gardens, arches and doors which adorned Emerald Hill Road.

Situated within Singapore, the best time of the year to give Emerald Hill Road a visit is between February and April. The weather is pleasant and allows visitors to take a leisurely walk down the Road while taking in its grand architecture. Since these months are neither too hot, nor too wet, visitors can also enjoy a mug of cold beer sitting in the open air spaces of the bars.

Visitors can take buses or taxis to reach Emerald Hill Road. Locals advise giving the driver instructions to go to Emerald Hill Road near Orchard Centrepoint and off Cairnhill Road. Emerald Hill Road has free entry for both locals and foreigners.

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