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Hi, I'm Stan Cabigas, a freelance photographer from the Philippines and available for work and collaboration. TenZeroFour is my Architecture and Interiors website and blog.

Interesting heritage architecture of Balai Besar

Alor Setar in Kedah, a northern state in Peninsular Malaysia has interesting landmark architecture. Within the main street where converge many heritage structures: the Balai Nobat, Masjid Zahir, the state museum, among others, is the beautiful Balai Besar.

Balai Besar or the Royal Audience Hall is just one part of the palace complex known as the Istana Kota Setar. It was where state functions, royal weddings and the installation of two of Kedah’s sultans were held.

The original structure was built in 1735 with wooden floors, pillars and roof but due to the Bugis (1770) and later, the Siamese (1821) invasions, the building was rehabilitated by the state in 1896.

Balai Besar is lofty and its beautiful details and architecture are said to have Thai influence. The front serves as a portico and twin winding staircases leads to the upper hall. This part contrasts widely with the other palace structures at the back which are made of masonry and the styles call to mind the shophouse architecture prominent in the old districts of Singapore and Malaysia.

Balai Besar

The beautiful vernacular architecture of Balai Besar that is said to have heavily influenced with Thai motifs

Balai Besar

Facade of Balai Besar with its beautiful Asian architecture. The original was built in 1735 but due to the damages brought by the Bugis, and later, the Siamese invasions, was rebuilt in 1896

Balai Besar

Colonial architecture at the back of Balai Besar. Wooden windows call to mind the shop houses found in many streets of Singapore and Peninsular Malaysia

Balai Besar

Another section of the palace complex behind Balai Besar.

Balai Besar

Two contrasting staircases: left, stone staircase with its colonial influence; right, wooden posts, flooring and roof make up the front of the Balai Besar

Balai Besar

Beautiful stone gate with wooden door leading to the back section of the palace complex where Balai Besar is a part

Balai Besar

Colonial architecture evident on portions of some parts of the palace complex. Art nouveau wrought iron railings decorate the stairs.