Observation – Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei

I haven’t posted anything under this category for quite a while now, and I think it’s time for me to restart it.  For this post, I would like to introduce to you one of the most popular tourist spot in Brunei, and one of the most majestic and historical mosques.

The Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque in the capital of Brunei, Bandar Seri Begawan was commissioned in the 1950’s, completed in 1958. It was commissioned by the sultan at that time the late Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin III, and bears his namesake. The plans for the mosque was done by Booty and Edwards Chartered Architects according  to the designs of the Italian architect Cavaliere Rudolfo Nolli. It was built on an artificial lagoon overlooking the historic Kampong Ayer. It was built using finest imported materials – Marbles from Italy, Granites from Shanghai, Crystal chandeliers and stained glass from England and carpets from Saudi Arabia.

Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei Darussalam

The mosque exhibits influences from multiple sources – the whole building echoes the styles of Mughal architecture, amalgamated with Italian and renaissance styles, for example, the facade of the mosque is have Mughal characteristics, but the interiors reflect Italian and Renaissance styles. The minaret is essentially an Islamic architecture, but the decoration and ornamentation is Renaissance, complete with stained glass. When it was finished, it was regarded as one of the most spectacular mosque in Asia Pacific, and one of the finest example of modern Islamic Architecture.

Perhaps the most prominent feature of the mosque is its 52 meter tall dome that is covered in pure gold. It is recently restored to its original shiny state for its 50th anniversary. The dome virtually can be seen from anywhere in Bandar Seri Begawan.

Another feature of the mosque is a replica of a 16th Century Mahligai barge that is used by the fifth Sultan of Brunei, Sultan Bolkiah. It was built to commemorate the 1400th anniversary of the Revelation of the Al-Quran, completed in  1967. It was formerly used as a stage for Al-Quran reading competitions.

The Mosque, seen across the lagoon, with the replica of the 16th Century Mahligai Barge.

The interior while have quite different style form the exterior of the mosque, it plays wonderfully with each other. The main prayer hall is glimmering with shiny marbles and granites with carpets brought in from Saudi Arabia. The Mihrab, the niche facing Mecca, where M uslims face when they pray are covered in golden mosaics – an apparent influence from Byzantine architecture.


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