Singapore's Stunning Sultan Mosque by Clare Haxby

One of Singapore’s most impressive religious monuments that has always caught my attention and admiration is the Sultan Mosque set in the heart of Kampong Glam. This striking structure features gold domes, a lofty prayer hall, and soaring towers, and it is not only an important centre for Muslims in Singapore but also an iconic heritage building that speaks for Singapore’s unique history.


History of Sultan Mosque


Before Singapore existed as a British settlement, the Prince of Johor, Sultan Hussain Shah had control of the island and the surrounding areas. When the British approached him with commercial treaties, he agreed to cede control of Singapore in return for an annual stipend and the use of the Kampong Glam area. This area was also designated a Malay and Muslim area. Here Sultan Shah decided to build a palace and beside it a grand mosque that was completed in 1824.

The original mosque had a pyramid-style roof and was managed by Sultan Shah’s grandson, Alauddin Shah, until he passed over the management to a group of five Muslim leaders in the community. In 1914 the government extended the mosque’s lease for an additional 999 years, and in 1932 the entire building was rebuilt into the highly recognizable building we know and love today.


Why You Should Visit


The Sultan Mosque (also known as Masjid Sultan) welcomes people of all religions and nationalities to visit the mosque. Inside you will find friendly volunteers who will set you up with a blue robe to wear while inside, and show you around the various areas of the mosque with stops to explain a bit about the history of the building and the Muslim religion. They will point out interesting architectural aspects like the base of the domes, which are made with glass bottles because Sultan Shah insisted that all Muslims, rich or poor, contribute something to their shared centre.


What to See and Do Around the Sultan Mosque


Kampong Glam is an incredibly interesting part of Singapore, as this was once a small fishing village, but later became the home of Malay royalty, as well as a huge Muslim community including Arab, Indonesian, Chinese and Indian traders. Today you will find streets lined with historic shophouses, independent boutiques, and eclectic restaurants, cafes and bars.

From Sultan Mosque, make your way over to the Malay Heritage Centre to learn more about this fascinating area and how it came to be what it is today. Here you can also pick up a Kampong Glam Heritage Trail brochure with maps that will take you around the neighborhood and photos and information about all the historic buildings you will pass.

If you’re looking for something a bit more contemporary, stop by Artistry where you can see modern artworks by up-and-coming Singapore artists and sip on aromatic coffees in their cool cafe. For lunch, you could try Maison Ikkoku for gourmet sandwiches and salads, and then head over to Haji Lane to shop for funky fashion and homewares. After dark, Going Om is the place to be for chilled out drinks and live music, or Blu Jaz Cafe for soulful rhythms and a nightcap.

If you’re looking for a unique memento of this beguiling neighborhood, my Sultan Mosque, Kampong Glam limited edition print makes for the perfect keepsake or gift.