Five historic must-visit mosques in Singapore
- 04 December 2018
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Singapore has many sights and delights to take in, from touristy places like the Sentosa island to the off-beat Haw Par Villa. But if you know where to look, you’ll also find iconic, historically significant mosques on the Little Red Dot.
These mosques are several decades old, with rich heritage and culture behind their facades. Be sure to enjoy the architectural beauty as well as the tranquillity of these mosques during your next visit to the city.
One of the most iconic mosques of Singapore as well as a prominent landmark, the Sultan Mosque stands tall with its golden dome gleaming in the tropical sun. Originally built in 1824, the old building fell into disrepair, and the present one was built in its place in 1924. The large prayer hall can hold up to 5,000 people. If you are interested in the mosque’s history, guided tours are held regularly.
Masjid Sultan stands in the Kampong Glam Malay Heritage District, the old home of Malay aristocracy. Today, the area remains one of the most culturally important places for Malays and other Muslims. Around the mosque is a bustling district of shops, restaurants, cafes and colourful street art.
MASJID ABDUL GAFOOR
The graceful minarets and old-world charm of Masjid Abdul Gafoor make it a must-visit. Its unique architecture is a blend of Indian, Roman and other Western styles. The mosque has several distinct features, including a sun dial at the main entrance with 25 rays denoting 25 prophets. The mosque is now a gazetted national monument.
Completed in 1910, Masjid Abdul Gafoor stands in bustling Little India and replaced an earlier, smaller mosque. With its many Indian stores and restaurants, the area is a beehive of activity around the week and late into the night.
MASJID OMAR KAMPONG MELAKA
Masjid Omar Kampong Melaka, Singapore’s oldest mosque, had humble beginnings in 1820; back then, it was just a wooden structure with a thatched roof. A brick structure replaced it in 1855, and subsequent additions and refurbishments have brought it to its current form.
As the mosque lies in the heart of the city, prayer time sees a lot of office goers from nearby offices. It stands as a space of tranquillity and a witness to changing times amidst the glitzy buildings and lights of the nearby Clarke Quay.
MASJID HAJJAH FATIMAH
This is Singapore’s own leaning tower. Or minaret, rather. The Hajjah Fatimah mosque’s four-level minaret slants at an angle of about 6 degrees thanks to water seepage and the shifting of bricks. Although renovation was carried out several years ago to rectify it, the minaret continues to tilt.
The mosque has been named after Hajjah Fatimah, a Malaccan lady whose donation allowed it to be built in 1846. It combines local and European styles of architecture, and today, its golden onion dome presents a contrast to the high-rise buildings around it.
Although Masjid Al-Abrar was set up in 1827, it was only in 1855 that a brick structure came up at the site. The architecture of the mosque itself has influences of the South Indian style, and rightly so, as it had been established for Tamil Muslim immigrants. This is also indicative of the rich cultural diversity that is so inherent to Singapore.
Very simple in its style, the building lacks the ornate elements that were typical of its contemporaries. The Al-Abrar mosque’s defining features are the two tall minarets in the front. Initially, it had only a single-storied prayer hall, which has since then been expanded.
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