9 Historic Mosques In SG To Add To Your Ultimate Local Bucket List


Shasha Dania •  Nov 17, 2022

Singapore has dozens of beautiful mosques across the country, but did you know that some of them have amazing and hidden histories behind their walls? ? From the last kampong mosque in Singapore to an underground mosque you might have missed, you can complete your prayers in some of the most interesting mosques around. Plus many of them are in the central area so you can easily work them into an afternoon out on the town! Here are 9 historic and iconic mosques in Singapore to get you started. ?

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1. Masjid Sultan

Do we really need to say more about Singapore's most famous mosque? Masjid Sultan is a familiar sight in the Kampong Gelam neighbourhood with its huge golden onion-shaped dome towering above the surrounding shophouses. Founded in 1824 by Sultan Hussain Shah, the mosque is decorated with gorgeous Islamic calligraphy and motifs that bring out its grandeur.

Declared a preserved historical building in 1975, it was even part of Singapore's bicentennial celebrations! It's truly become a landmark (and can't-miss IG-worthy spot!) for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. ☺️ Click here for a deeper dive into its history and architecture if you're curious to find out more!

Address: 3 Muscat St, Singapore 198833

Nearest MRT: Bugis MRT, Rochor MRT

2. Masjid Jamae Chulia

Although it's located in the Chinatown neighbourhood, Masjid Jamae Chulia (Also known as 'Chulia Mosque' or 'Periya Palli' - 'Big Mosque' in Tamil) owes its existence and name to the Chulia Tamil Muslims who came to Singapore to seek a living in the 19th century. The first mosque in the area was established in 1826, and the Masjid you see today was built on the site between 1930-1835 making it one of the earliest mosques in Singapore!

The traditional appearance of the mosque has stayed the same since then, apart from repairs done in 1996. The entrance resembles a South Indian palace, with intricate details such as windows and doors trailing up the minarets as well. Inside, the prayer halls are decorated in a Neo-Classical style with a high ceiling and wide domed arches. Today, the mosque still holds religious classes and sermons in Tamil, reflecting the diversity of Singapore and Singaporean Muslims. ?

Address: 218 South Bridge Rd, Singapore 058767

Nearest MRT: Chinatown MRT, Telok Ayer MRT

3. Masjid Abdul Gafoor

Masjid Abdul Gafoor regularly makes it onto lists of the most stunning mosques in Singapore - and we can understand why! ? Its grand architecture is a pleasant change from the neighbouring shophouses of Little India, but of course, behind the glamour it holds decades of history too. If you're exploring Little India over the weekend, you've definitely got to make a stop here to check it out!

The mosque originated as Al-Abrar Mosque on Dunlop Street (not to be confused with the Al-Abrar Mosque of today which sits on Telok Ayer Street!) and mainly served South Indian Tamil Muslims who came to Singapore as traders and workers, and Bawanease workers from the old racecourse nearby.

Construction on the mosque as you may recognise it today started in 1907, and the unique appearance of the mosque comes from the use of both Saracenic and Neo-Classical elements. When you're visiting make sure to stop by the entrance to marvel at the grand sunburst design above the main doors. The design includes the names of 25 Islamic prophets in Arabic calligraphy and only adds on to the breathtaking beauty of the mosque.

Address:41 Dunlop St, Singapore 209369

Nearest MRT: Rochor MRT, Jalan Besar MRT, Little India MRT

4. Masjid Omar Kampong Melaka

Innocently sitting in the middle of Singapore's Central Business District is the country's oldest mosque! Masjid Omar Kampong Melaka's original building was built in 1820, and its name comes from the notable Arab businessman and philanthropist Syed Omar Aljunied who contributed to the funding of the building.

Fun fact: the mosque didn't have a minaret for the first 160 years of its existence! ? It originally had a traditional timber and attap roof, and the minaret was only built in 1981 during a round of renovations and redevelopment. The pillars, columns, and some wooden structures dating back to 1855 have even been preserved along with the history in its walls.

The mosque remains simple today (although it's been expanded to create more space for congregants) but it's catered to more and more Muslims from different backgrounds across the years. It was declared a historic site by the National Heritage Board in 2001, and since it's located in the CBD Muslims from all walks of life who work nearby have turned to it as their regular prayer spot.

Address: 10 Keng Cheow St, Singapore 059607

Nearest MRT: Clarke Quay MRT, Chinatown MRT, Fort Canning MRT

5. Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang

One of the last kampong mosques in Singapore, Masjid Petempatan Melayu Sembawang (Translated to the 'Malay Settlement Mosque' in English, or sometimes known as Masjid Kampung Tengah) is worth a trip to the north to step back into days gone by. Constructed in 1963, the mosque is simple with only one floor and a single minaret with an onion-shaped dome.

P.S. Need more reasons to make a trip to the 'ulu' north to visit this mosque? Here are 11 amazing halal eateries in Sembawang and Woodlands so you can grab a bite once you've done your prayers!

The mosque was built with funds raised by the local Malay Muslim community and a generous amount from Lee Foundation, and kampong residents volunteered their time and labour to help construct it. The mosque came close to being demolished in the 1980s as residents began to move out of the kampongs into public housing, but was thankfully allowed to continue at its current site! Many original elements like the doors, gate, walls, and windows have been preserved and unchanged since 1963.

When you arrive, take a moment to admire the rubber trees at the entrance, which are the last few remnants of the rubber plantation that used to exist in the area! It's one of the areas where you can enjoy a long-forgotten, quiet old-world charm. ? Though the mosque is usually pretty quiet, special occasions such as Ramadan and Hari Raya can see it being packed with congregants - many of whom grew up alongside the mosque and still use it as a familiar meeting spot for old friends.

Address: 27B Jln Mempurong, Singapore 759055

Nearest MRT: Canberra MRT (Note: To get to this mosque, it is recommended you take a cab from the MRT as there are no direct buses there)

6. Masjid Hajjah Fatimah

The only mosque in Singapore named after a woman, Masjid Hajjah Fatimah was commissioned by the businesswoman and philanthropist Hajjah Fatimah in 1845. Located along Beach Road in the Kampong Gelam neighbourhood, it was built on the site of Hajjah Fatimah's family house. After the house was broke into twice and set on fire, it's said that Hajjah Fatimah decided to dedicate the land for a mosque in order to thank Allah for saving her. ?Find out more about her story - and that of 11 other iconic historic Muslims in Singapore - here!

The mosque's architecture has Indo-Islamic and European features, but its most well-known feature is definitely the minaret. Take a look before you enter the mosque - it's actually leaning slightly! The tilt has been there since it was constructed and even though renovation works were undertaken in the 1970s there's still a slight lean. The mosque is usually pretty quiet even though it's situated in a busy and popular neighbourhood.

P.S. If you're planning a visit, look out for the stray cats that linger around the cluster of HDB flats next door - there are over 10 within a 2-block radius that can be found lazing around and enjoying affectionate pets from passers-by!

Address: 4001 Beach Rd, Singapore 199584

Nearest MRT: Nicoll Highway MRT, Lavender MRT, Bugis MRT

7. Masjid Haji Muhd Salleh (Palmer Rd) @ Maqam Habib Noh

There are 2 mosques in Singapore bearing the name of Haji Muhd Salleh but today we're talking about the one located along Palmer Road in Tanjong Pagar! The site houses both a mosque and a shrine, making it one of the more significant Islamic sites in the region. The shrine - Keramat Habib Noh - is dedicated to one of the most well-known and revered 19th-century local Malay saints.

Habib Noh was said to be a direct descendant of the Prophet Muhammad, and he used to visit Mount Palmer to pray in peace and quiet. He was known for his compassion and generosity to children and the poor.

Legend has it that his grave was initially supposed to be located at Bidadari Cemetery, before being moved to Mount Palmer to honour his last wishes. The compound is said to have experienced strange events in its history. It was left untouched by bombing during World War 2, and when it was facing demolition during the construction of a highway it's said that the bulldozers were strangely unable to operate.

Address: 37 Palmer Rd, Singapore 079424

Nearest MRT: Tanjong Pagar MRT

Masjid Al Abrar

This brick mosque's origins are similar to that of Masjid Jamae Chulia as they were both set up to give Tamil Muslim migrants to Singapore a place to pray. The mosque began as a simple thatched hut, and construction of Masjid Al Abrar as it stands today only started in the 1850s.

Set in a row of shophouses, the five-foot-way sidewalk seamlessly connects it to its neighbours. If you're walking down that street, you might not notice it's a mosque until you're right in front of the doors! From a few streets down you'll be able to see the tall octagonal minarets flanking the main entrance that distinguish it as a landmark. Some 19th-century artworks of the area even include the minarets!

P.S. If you can go into the main hall, stop by the mihrab to admire the blue glass panel installed above it, and the calligraphy of a section of Al-Fatihah engraved on it.

Address: 192 Telok Ayer St, Singapore 068635

Nearest MRT: Telok Ayer MRT, Tanjong Pagar MRT, Downtown MRT

9. Masjid Moulana Mohamed Ali

This is the youngest mosque in our list but we had to include it as it's one of the most unique ones because it's located underground! Masjid Moulana Mohamed Ali sits by the Singapore River in the Central Business District, and is the only underground mosque in Singapore. It was first located around Market Street in a shophouse, but was moved to the basement of UOB Plaza as a trade after UOB acquired the surrounding area for redevelopment.

Since then, the mosque has become an essential prayer spot for those who work in the CBD or Civic District and it's even increased its capacity from 350 to 800 congregants. It's usually pretty quiet aside from Friday prayers, so if you feel like planning a visit you can enjoy some peace and quiet. Once you're done with your prayers, you can enjoy a walk down the Singapore River towards the delicious halal eateries around Marina Bay!

Address: 80 Raffles Place, #B1-01 I UOB Plaza, Singapore 048624

Nearest MRT: Raffles Place MRT, Telok Ayer MRT, Clarke Quay MRT

Now you can explore a side of Singapore you never knew about!