The Istana is the official residence and office of the president of Singapore. The palace is open to the public during scheduled public holidays and is where the president receives and entertains state guests. The Istana is also the office of the prime minister of Singapore and is home to Sri Temasek, the official residence of the prime minister since Singapore’s independence in 1965, though none of the prime ministers have ever lived there. The 106 acres (0.43 km2) estate was once part of the extensive nutmeg plantation of Mount Sophia. In 1867, the British colonial government acquired the land and built a mansion to be the official home of the British governor. This continued until 1959 when Singapore was granted self-governance, and the governor was replaced by the Yang di-Pertuan Negara, who was in turn replaced by the President of Singapore.
The Istana is similar to many 18th-century neo-Palladian style buildings designed by British military engineers in India. It has a tropical layout like a Malay house, surrounded by statuesque columns, deep verandahs, louvred windows and panelled doors to promote cross-ventilation. The central three-storey 28-metre-high tower block dominates the building. The reasonably well-proportioned two-storey side wings feature Ionic, Doric and Corinthian orders with Ionic colonnades at the second storey and Doric colonnades at the first storey. The building sits in its elevated position overlooking its stately grounds, the Domain, reminiscent of the great gardens of England.