Yangon, the biggest city and the former capital of burma, is a wonderful destination to adventure. This city has the most colonial buildings in Southeast Asia and is regarded as “London” of this region. Hidden behind these red bricks and pastel-painted stucco facades are mysteries from a forgotten era when Yangon was the most cosmopolitan and thriving city in Southeast Asia.
High Court Building, formerly known as the Parliament for Justice, built in 1914, previous World War I
British burma existed for just above a half century (1885 – 1942), but Outer myanmar was the British colony from 1852. Yangon colonial buildings constructed in late 19th century, and truly great about their various styles and structure. The British Raj disapproved of blending styles within a single city’s architecture. They told their consulting architect James Ransome “not to put up any Mongrel buildings”, and guided him to style “Calcutta Classic, Bombay Gothic, Madras Saracenic, Yangon Renaissance”.
Downtown Yangon, the central business district, such as an open-air museum, looks refreshingly different from every other broad city in Southeast Asia. Block after block of constructions feature columns, domes, balconies, art deco trim, and even a clock tower.
These structures include civic and governmental buildings, concentrated in eastern Sule Pagoda. Street names here are reminiscent of London: Strand street, Bank street, Merchant street, Pansodan road (or Phayre street); while the atmosphere makes remember the past Shanghai, Hong Kong or Singapore.
“Yangon has captured a sense of time that has been lost in Singapore and Hong Kong." said Ian Morley, an assistant professor in the history department at Chinese University of Hong Kong. "You (Yangon’s residents) possess this downtown environment, which is relatively intact. It's got a sense of historical integrity as it was built from the late 1800s and early 1900s."
The century-old buildings had the fashions of the decade, commonly combining the latest European styles with oriental influences, creating a dramatic and eclectic cityscape. This durable architectural heritage recalls images of English cities like London or Liverpool. Apartment buildings painted pale blue and green, with shuttered windows, filigree balconies and steep wooden stairs. In this extraordinary collection, some elegant, some imposing, some delicate. Even, citizen can be found several of most excellent Victorian Architecture of London quiet standing at this global-half side.
An original colonial building
The most prestigious business address was Lower Pansodan road. Broad banks, offices and department stores filled majestic buildings. Strand Hotel is a featured mansion by its liveried doormen, ancient floor tiles and whirling ceiling fans. With the new investment, it once again become a magnet for wealthy travelers. Another reminder of great British burma is Pegu Club, where British imperial officers used to smoke cigars, played billiards, and sip their global cocktail - gin, lime juice, orange curaçao and bitters.
Strand hotel, Victorian-style, built in 1896 is the most prominent and expensive hotel in Yangon
"The identical economic influences that built the broad old mills and commercial firms of Manchester's city centre and Sheffield University's red-brick buildings after the industrial revolution helped to build colonial Yangon, and the physical resemblances are startling," said Dr. Su Lin Lewis, a fellow at the Institute of Historical Research in London. "In contrast, the city's narrow apartment buildings have resonances in downtown Calcutta and Chinese shop-houses in Penang and Singapore. The whole of Yangon is so featured and evocative it can be used as a film set."
"Yangon's heritage buildings are an important part of the city's and the country's history and possess a wealth of cultural capital," Dr. Lewis added. "They may become a draw for tourism as well as for creative development – some inclue already been restored as restaurants and hotels, but there's also room to restore them as museums, galleries and office buildings."
However, due to the economic development in Yangon recently, some colonial buildings disappeared, even a whole of a street. They are threatened by demolition to make way for new office blocks and shopping mall.
In 1996, the Yangon City Development Committee issued a heritage list that includes 189 buildings that cannot be changed or demolished without the committee's permission. “This has helped to ensure the survival of tremendous of the city's most important old buildings”, said Dr. Zaw Win, the YCDC's chief engineer, “although many, especially those owned by relocated government ministries, contain been left to decay.”
Yangon colonial-era buildings are as memories of days gone by. They are valuable because they have unique antique architectural features. They reflect images of the former Yangon, which had ever been a prosperous and busy city, a key note in international trade and finance networks. Yangon’s old-style colonial architecture is priceless, which needs to be researched and preserved.
Even though the capital of burma was moved to Nay Pyi Taw, Yangon is the most important port for any trips to burma due most airlines scheduling their routs in and out from Yangon. A city journey in Yangon is a must for all travellers with Shwedagon pagoda - the iconic symbol of burma as well as a walk along colonial streets to recal Victorian time. You can combine Yangon journey with other places for a complete myanmar package or take a sole Yangon excursion by referring here!