The Merlion of Singapore: A Tale of History, Events, and Incidents

November 1, 2023

Singapore, the vibrant island city-state nestled in Southeast Asia, is a destination known for its unique blend of modernity and tradition. Among its iconic landmarks, the Merlion stands tall and proud, symbolizing the spirit of Singapore. In this blog, we will dive into the history, events, and incidents surrounding this beloved creature.

The Birth of the Merlion


The story of the Merlion begins in 1964 when the Singapore Tourist Promotion Board (STPB) sought a symbol to represent the nation's identity. A committee led by Mr. Fraser Brunner, a renowned sculptor, was tasked with this mission. The result was the Merlion, a mythical creature with the head of a lion and the body of a fish. The lion's head symbolized the city's original name, "Singapura," which means "Lion City" in Sanskrit, while the fish body alluded to its roots as a fishing village.

The Original Merlion


The first Merlion statue was a modest 8.6 meters tall and made of concrete. It was erected in 1972 at the mouth of the Singapore River, offering a picturesque view of the city's skyline. The Merlion quickly became a beloved symbol and a popular tourist attraction, drawing visitors from around the world. However, the original Merlion faced several incidents over the years, including vandalism and damage from storms.

The Merlion Park


In 2002, the Merlion Park was established to provide a dedicated space for the iconic statue. The park, located near the Central Business District, features two Merlion statues – the original 8.6-meter-tall statue and a smaller, 2-meter-tall Merlion cub. The park's design allows visitors to take in panoramic views of the city while enjoying the majestic sight of the Merlion.

The Merlion's Incident in 2006

The Merlion had its fair share of incidents, the most notable of which occurred in 2006. A group of activists poured red paint over the statue in a protest against government policies. This act of vandalism sparked public outrage and led to calls for greater security measures to protect the iconic symbol. The Merlion was promptly restored to its former glory, and the incident served as a reminder of the statue's significance to the people of Singapore.

The Relocation of the Original Merlion

In 2019, Singapore's skyline underwent a transformation with the construction of the Marina Bay Sands resort, obscuring the Merlion's view of the city. To provide a better vantage point and preserve the iconic landmark, the original Merlion statue was moved to its current location, adjacent to the Fullerton Hotel and One Fullerton.

The Merlion's Cultural Significance

Beyond being a tourist attraction, the Merlion has become a symbol of Singaporean identity and a source of national pride. It represents the nation's history, cultural heritage, and aspiration to be a modern, vibrant, and prosperous city. The Merlion's image has been used in various forms, including coins, currency notes, and official government logos.

The Merlion of Singapore has witnessed its fair share of history, events, and incidents. From its humble beginnings as a symbol of tourism to becoming an enduring emblem of the Lion City, the Merlion stands as a testament to Singapore's growth and transformation. As a beloved national icon, it continues to enchant visitors and remind Singaporeans of their rich heritage and bright future.

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