Istana, meaning 'Palace' in Malay, is the office and official residence of the President of Singapore and the working office of the Prime Minister of Singapore. The grand, whitewashed, neoclassical building is set in 16 hectares of ground on the Orchard Road. Built by the British between 1867 and 1869, The Istana is open to visitors on five selected statutory holidays in a year: Chinese New Year (January/February), Deepavali (October/November), Hari Raya Puasa (Eid - marking the end of Ramadan festival), Labour Day (May 1) and a chosen date before the National Day (7 August). There is a very eventful changing of guards on the first Sunday of every month which is the best time to visit Istana.
The Istana ground and six functions rooms are often the venues for state functions and ceremonial occasions like swearings-in, investitures and presentation of the credentials by heads of foreign missions. On the days when Istana is open to the public, one can stroll past the nine-hole golf course, through the mesmerising terraced gardens into the stunning reception hall. The Istana Open days also has various entertainment sections, educational activities like the 'Display of Reptiles by the Wildlife Reserves of Singapore', 'Guided Tour by National Heritage Board' and Nature Guided Walks. Local schools and youth groups showcase their music and dance skills through various performances. The rest of the time, access to the Istana is restricted to the heavily-guarded gates on the Orchard Road.
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