Photo: Imagine the view from above.

Monumen Nasional (Monas)

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Indonesia’s National Monument, abbreviated to Monas, (yep that’s Mon-umen Nas-ional) is a symbol of the nation’s struggle for independence. The towering gold flame-topped white marble obelisk extends from a square plinth in the heart of Lapangan Merdeka (Freedom Square), the geographical centre of the city.





The project was conceived by Sukarno, the first President of Indonesia, to inspire nationalism in the new republic with a symbol that would “rival the Eiffel Tower”. After two failed attempts of finding a suitable design via architecture competitions, Sukarno himself in collaboration with architect Friedrich Silaban, an enthusiast for the International Style who had designed the nearby Istiqlal Mosque, designed the monument.

Pretty in pink. Photo taken in or around Monumen Nasional (Monas), Jakarta, Indonesia by Sally Arnold.

Pretty in pink. Photo: Sally Arnold

The design is based on the linga-yoni, an ancient Shaivite Hindu symbol (a nod to Indonesia’s past and Sukarno’s ancestry) representing creation and regeneration, the feminine and the masculine, although in the case of Monas, it’s the masculine phallic tower that is most memorable (also perhaps a nod to Sukarno). The numeric dimensions of the monument are also symbolic and refer to the date of Indonesia’s declaration of independence, 17 August 1945—you can count 17/8/45 as the basis of just about every measurement of the design. The “yoni” (feminine) base is 45 metres square with a central 17 metre square section, and the museum below, 80 metres square while the “linga” towers 117.7 metres above with the distance from the viewing platform to the peak of the flame another 17 metres.

Our guide mentioned that originally 35 kilos of gold leaf coated the bronze flame, but on the 50th anniversary of independence another ten kilos were added. This kind of numeric symbolism is common in many Indonesian designs—you can also see it in Silaban’s Istiqlal Mosque and the Indonesian coat-of-arms. Construction of the project began in 1961 and took a staggering 14 years before it was completed under President Suharto, Sukarno’s ... please log in to read the rest of this story.


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Monumen Nasional (Monas)
Central Jakarta–best place to enter is from behind Gambir train station
Tu–Su: 07:00–21:30. Lift operates 08:00–16:00 and 19:00–22:00
Admission: 5,000 rupiah plus 10,000 rupiah for the lift, though you’ll end up paying 30,000 rupiah.

Location map for Monumen Nasional (Monas)

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