Monas (Monumen Nasional) is a very popular tourist destination in Jakarta. It is located on Medan Merdeka square, in the middle of an eighty hectare squares of land. Since the monument is 132 meters in height, it is easily spotted.
This National Monument of Indonesia symbolizes the Indonesian's fight for the freedom. Hence, some of the dimensions are related to the Indonesia's Independence date: August 17, 1945. It started to be built on August 17, 1961 and completed on July 12, 1975.
The peak of the monument is crowned with the flame of independence that looks like gold. Thus, people often joke about it, they want to take the gold from Monas. Actually, it is a bronze structure covered with gold-foils. Initially, 35 kilograms gold-foils covered the flame, but it was recoated and increased to 50 kilograms during the 50th anniversary of Indonesian independence.
Presently, the garden where Monas is located is called Medan Merdeka square. It is a city square surrounded by several important buildings, such as Istana Merdeka (the presidential palace), Museum Nasional, many ministry offices, an Indonesian army headquarter, Istiqlal mosque, US embassy, and the new National library. Gambir railway station is on the east side of the park.
Over the years the square has many names. Initially, the Dutch called it Koningsplein (King's square), while the local called it Lapangan Gambir (Gambir square), because there are many gambir plants there. In 1942, the Japanese changed the name into Ikada square (Ikatan Atletik Djakarta = Jakarta Athletic Association). After Indonesia's independence, our first President changed the name into Medan Merdeka (Independence square). Still, this place is more popular as Monas square.