Photo by Andrew Tan
You’ve probably seen images of Singapore’s national icon, the mythical Merlion with the head of a lion and the body of a fish.
A fishy tale
The Merlion's body symbolises Singapore's humble beginnings as a fishing village when it was called Temasek, which comes from the same root as the word tasek ('lake' in Malay).
Its head represents Singapore’s original name, Singapura, or ‘lion city’ in Malay.
Today, you can glimpse this legend at Merlion Park. Spouting water from its mouth, the Merlion statue stands tall at 8.6 metres and weighs 70 tonnes.
This icon is a must-see for tourists visiting Singapore, similar to other significant landmarks around the world.
Built by local craftsman Lim Nang Seng, it was unveiled on 15 September 1972 by then Prime Minister Lee Kuan Yew at the mouth of the Singapore River, to welcome all visitors to Singapore.
On the move
With the completion of Esplanade Bridge in 1997, the statue could no longer be viewed clearly from the waterfront.
So in 2002, the Merlion was relocated 120 metres away from the original position to where it stands in Merlion Park today, in front of Fullerton Hotel and overlooking Marina Bay.
The park also houses a smaller Merlion statue. Known as the ‘Merlion cub’, it stands at two metres tall and weighs three tonnes.
The original sculpture and its cub are the most well-known among the seven approved Merlion statues in Singapore.
See if you can spot the rest on your trip here: there’s a giant version on Sentosa, one at Tourism Court near Grange Road and another at Mount Faber.