The Esplanade in Singapore is a durian-shaped Singaporean opera house, but also a terrific tourist venue.
The Esplanade is a far cry from the slums and fields that used to comprise the land it now stands on, but it is nonetheless a wonderful tourist venue. It is Singapore’s Opera House, a center for the arts and art, while at the same time enjoying the backdrop of the city-state’s bay.
The Esplanade as a Center of Arts
For the Singaporean, or cultured tourist, the Esplanade will be first and foremost a destination for elevated entertainment. Here are performed regularly recitals and renditions of the symphonic classics. regularly advertised in the local newspaper. Prices vary, but, naturally, one shouldn’t expect anything too budget. Philharmonic orchestras from all over the world have frequented his recent but already studded scene. A band can occasionally be heard playing in the main foyer on the ground floor.
Moreover, it plays host to various artistic exhibitions that are held throughout the year, from painting competitions, to dramatic performances. All sorts of plays and performances come here, from Shakespeare theater companies, to Chinese thespian troups performing plays set in Chinese mythology.
The Esplanade Library
Perhaps a cultural center is never complete without a library, and the Esplanade in this complies well. The Esplanade library, on the top floor of the building, contains the largest single collection in Singapore, open to the public, of dramatic materials. The literature is heavily emphatic on theater, its history, and literary criticism, while there are simply thousands of musical scores and CDs, covering the whole history and spectrum of music. There is also a cafe, and a nice view of the city.
The Esplanade as a Tourist Attraction
Few places in Singapore, however, ever totally escape from the lure of commerce, and the Esplanade, perhaps slightly sadly, is no different. It is an unusual sight to find a line of shops on the ground level leading into the building, and perhaps slightly disconcerting to find an arcade style line of restaurants on the same level, at the very end. It would suit better the quieter regions of a shopping mall than a cultural center, some might think. Nonetheless the outlets here are not numerous enough to attract shopaholics, and cater to those willing to spend out of their comfort zones. The Esplanade would make a nice weekend venue for dinner for a family.
The Esplanade’s main selling points, however, can be perceived from without. The building’s unusual design may strike some as a distorted, southeast Asian conception of modernism, but really it is supposed to imitate the puncturing and stern shape and surface of that local delight, the durian.
More than its design, the Esplanade is also very fortunately placed, as it commands some unchallenged vistas of the city and its small, albeit piquant, bay. The rooftop is a place not known to too many, hidden as it is by a staircase entrance on the top level, A truly magnificent view awaits anybody who gets there, and it is complemented by small lawns and garden-like plots that provide for a quiet afternoon picnic.
Access to the Esplanade
The Esplanade is centrally located, and close to Singapore’s city center. One could get there by public transport – bus, or MRT, which has Esplanade station only walking distance away. It is also accessible by underpass, if one drops at City Hall station. The Esplanade is also within walking distance of Boat Quay and Clarke Quay along the Singapore River.