The mosque, or the masjid, is where Muslims go to worship. Found in almost every country around the world, many mosques feature stunning, and almost majestic, architecture. The most beautiful mosques are also considered tourist attractions in their respective countries, and they welcome visitors who not only want to marvel at the buildings, but are intrigued by the customs and culture of Islam.
Here are 10 of the most beautiful mosques in the world that are so breathtaking, they’ll have you falling in love in no time:
1. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, Brunei Darussalam
Named as a major historic site and tourist attraction in Brunei, this beautiful architectural masterpiece is located in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei. It is named after the 28th Sultan of Brunei, who also requested its construction. Its construction was completed in 1958 and it serves as the Islamic symbol of Brunei, dominating the city’s skyline.
The mosque is built on an artificial lagoon, on the banks of the Brunei River, at the very famous Kampung Ayer, Brunei’s very own “village in the water”. The mosque features marble minarets (towers from which the faithful are called to prayer), pure golden domes, and a large courtyard that includes water fountains. It is surrounded by trees and floral gardens. Visitors can access the top of the minaret by elevator, from where they can enjoy panoramic views of the city.
The interior of the mosque is used for prayer only and it features stained-glass windows, arches, semi-domes, and marble columns. Non-Muslim visitors can look inside from just inside the doorway, outside of prayer times, and suitable clothing (cloaks and headscarves for females) is provided. There is no charge. The mosque, which is visible from almost everywhere in Bandar Seri Begawan, was named as the most beautiful mosque in the Asia-Pacific region.
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque
Address: Jalan McArthur, Bandar Seri Begawan BS8711, Brunei
Opening Hours: The grounds are open between 8 am and 8.30 pm. The inside can be viewed Sat to Wed between 8.30 am and 12 noon, 1.30 pm to 3 pm, & 4.30 pm to 5.30 pm. (Closed Thu & Fri)
Contact: +231 88 090 9413
2. Malacca Straits Mosque, Malaysia
The Malacca Straits Mosque hosted its opening ceremony in 2006 and, since then, has been a major tourist attraction not just in Malacca but throughout the whole of Malaysia as well. It is situated on the man-made Malacca Island. It is more commonly known to locals as Masjid Selat Melaka, and it was constructed by the State Government of Malacca.
What makes this mosque beautiful isn’t just its stunning architecture, which combines both Middle Eastern and Malay craftsmanship, it is also the fact that it is built on the shoreline of the Strait and, when the water level is high, the mosque looks like it’s floating above the water! The most prominent feature of the mosque is its 30-metre-tall (98-foot-tall) minaret, along with a majestic arch with blue trims that curves gracefully over the entrance. The mosque is especially beautiful under the night sky when its entire premises light up, offering a breathtaking and picturesque view.
Non-Muslims are allowed to look inside as long as they are dressed appropriately, although many people come to simply admire the religious building from outside.
Malacca Straits Mosque
Address: Masjid Selat, 75000, Melaka, Malaysia
Opening Hours: 10 am to 10 pm
Contact: +60 062 882 640
3. Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, Saudi Arabia
Originally built by Prophet Muhammad, the Al-Masjid An-Nabawi Mosque is located in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Medina is the second holiest site in Islam, right after Mecca. It was also the second mosque to be built in the history of Islam. Today, it stands as one of the largest mosques in the world. It was originally located adjacent to the Prophet’s house, where he settled after his emigration, or Hijra, to Medina in 622 CE. In fact, the name of the mosque translates to the Prophet’s Mosque.
The original architecture of the house, which the Prophet himself took part in constructing, featured an open-air building and served as a community centre, a court, and a religious school. Today, it serves as a major pilgrimage site for Muslims, with many visiting after performing Hajj at Mecca. It is revered due to its connections with the life of Muhammad. The mosque’s prominent feature is the Green Dome, which is located in the southeast part of the mosque. The Green Dome is at the site of Aisha’s house, the youngest wife of the Prophet. Today, the tomb of the Prophet lies there. The dome was actually added in 1818 by the Ottoman Sultan Mahmud II and got its current name after it was first painted green in 1837.
Non-Muslims cannot enter the mosque. Indeed, obtaining a tourist visa for Saudi Arabia is very difficult, and entering the central part of Medina is forbidden.
Address: Medina, Saudi Arabia
Opening Hours: Daily, 24 hours per day (women may only visit in groups following the dawn or afternoon prayers)
Contact: +966 4 823 2400
4. Al Haram Mosque, Saudi Arabia
Masjid Al Haram, also known as the Grand Mosque, the Great Mosque, and the Holy Mosque, translates to The Sacred Mosque, It is the biggest mosque in the world. It is also home to Islam’s holiest place, the Kaaba / Qibla, towards which Muslims face to pray. This means that this mosque is the only mosque in the world to not have a prayer direction, as everyone will be facing the Kaaba. This mosque is where Muslims come to perform their Hajj pilgrimage, which is one of the Five Pillars of Islam. Muslims may also visit at any time of the year for Umrah.
The compound consists of both an outdoor and indoor praying area and covers a total area of 356,800 square metres (3,840,563 square feet). The mosque is said to be able to accommodate up to 82,000 worshippers. Al Haram was built in the 7th century and, over the centuries, like Al-Masjid an-Nabawi, it has seen several developments and expansions. Besides the Kaaba, other prominent features of the mosque include the Black Stone. This Black Stone was set into the Kaaba’s wall by Muhammad himself in the year 605. Worshippers can be seen kissing the Black Stone and it is said that the kisses will be received by Muhammad himself.
Non-Muslims cannot visit the mosque or enter the Holy City of Mecca. There are separate entrances and facilities for male and female Muslims.
Address: Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Opening Hours: Daily, 24 hours
Contact: +966 50 783 3004
5. Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque, Malaysia
Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque is the largest mosque in Malaysia and it is located in Shah Alam, Selangor. The mosque can easily be seen from afar, party due to its huge blue and silver dome that is accompanied by four majestic minarets erected in each of the four corners. Construction of the mosque was completed in 1988 under the instructions of the late Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz after he declared Shah Alam as the capital of Selangor. The mosque is also known to house the largest religious dome in the world, that stands 106.7 metres (350 feet) above ground level. The minarets stand at 142.3 metres (467 feet) above ground level and are the second-tallest minarets in the world.
With its size, the mosque can hold about 24,000 worshippers at any given time. The outer part of the dome is filled with enamel-baked triangular steel panels that are decorated with a rosette of verses from the Holy Quran.
Non-Muslims are permitted to look around inside, with a guide, outside of prayer times. Robes and headscarves are provided, although visitors are reminded to dress conservatively and respectfully.
Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Mosque
Address: Shah Alam, Selangor, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Daily 9 am to 7 pm. Non-Muslim visitors can look inside Mon to Thurs between 9 am and 12 noon, 2 pm and 4 pm & 5 pm to 6.30 pm
Contact: +60 1-300-88-5050
6. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, United Arab Emirates
Boasting stunning exteriors and interiors, Sheikh Zayed Mosque is located in the UAE’s capital of Abu Dhabi. It was launched by the country’s late president, after whom the mosque was named, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. His resting place is located on the grounds beside the mosque. It is the largest mosque in the UAE. It is also considered as the main place of worship in Abu Dhabi.
Because of Sheikh Zayed’s plan, the construction of the mosque included materials from all over the world, including from countries such as India, Morocco, New Zealand, and Malaysia. The mosque features architectural designs that combine inspirations from Persian, Mughal and Moorish mosque structures. Also, it is reported that the carpet used in the prayer hall is the world’s largest carpet! The seven chandeliers in the mosque, which were imported from Germany, are the third-largest chandeliers in the world, and the second-largest chandeliers in a mosque.
Non-Muslims can visit the mosque independently, outside of prayer times, or there are also guided tours each day. Tours last for around 45 minutes and are conducted by volunteers. There is no cost to join an informative tour. Visitors must be dressed appropriately, and women must wear headscarves.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque
Address: Sheikh Rashid Bin Saeed Street, United Arab Emirates
Opening Hours: Sat to Thurs 9 am to 10 pm (closed to non-Muslims during prayer times), Fri 4.20 pm to 10 pm
Contact: +971 2 4191919
7. Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Turkey
Located in Istanbul, the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is more famously known as the Blue Mosque. Its construction finished in the 17th century under the ruling of Ahmed I, after whom the mosque is named. The mosque also contains Ahmed’s tomb. The mosque got its nickname of the Blue Mosque due to the blue tiles that are hand-painted, as well as the fact that during the night, the mosque is bathed in blue because of lights that frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets, and eight secondary domes.
The mosque’s architecture features traditional Islamic designs and it was designed with the idea of making the mosque have an overwhelming size, majesty, and splendour. The lower interior of the mosque features more than 20,000 handmade tiles in more than 50 different tulip designs. The upper interior, on the other hand, has blue paint and more than 200 stained-glass windows. There are also chandeliers with ostrich eggs inside them, said to repel spiders and cobwebs. These decorations also include verses of the Holy Quran.
Non-Muslims can enter the mosque outside of prayer times. Appropriate clothing must be worn, and headscarves are available for women to borrow.
Sultan Ahmed Mosque
Address: At Meydanı No:7, 34122 Fatih/İstanbul, Turkey
Opening Hours: Daily, 24 hours (non-Muslims are advised to avoid visiting on a Friday)
Contact: +90 212 458 4468
8. Taj-ul-Mosque, India
The Taj-ul-Masajid translates to Crown Among Mosques and it is one of the largest mosques in India. It can be found in the city of Bhopal.
Construction for this mosque began in the 19th century, and it was finished in 1985. It was started by Nawab Shah Jahan Begum during the rule of the Mughal Emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, who is the wife of Baqi Mohammad Khan. Construction was continued by her daughter Sultan Jahan Begum but was halted due to lack of funding. It was finally continued in 1971 and opened its doors in 1985.
The eastern gate of the mosque was renovated with ancient motifs from around the year 1250 from Syrian mosques. The motifs were contributed by the Emir of Kuwait with the aim of commemorating the memory of his departed wife. The mosque has a gorgeous exterior with its prominent features being the two 18-storey-high octagonal minarets that are accompanied by marble domes. There are also 3 other huge bulbous domes. In the prayer room, the Qibla is carved with eleven recessed arches.
Non-Muslims, who are dressed appropriately, can look inside outside of prayer times.
Address: NH 12, Kohefiza, Bhopal, Madhya Pradesh 462001, India
Opening Hours: Daily 6 am to 8 pm; entrance is forbidden for non-Muslims on Fridays and during prayer times
Contact: By post
9. Crystal Mosque, Malaysia
Yet another gorgeous mosque in Malaysia, this time in Terengganu. The Crystal Mosque, or Masjid Kristal, is located on the island of Wan Man’s Islamic Heritage Park and is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the whole of Malaysia. This could be due to the fact that the mosque is built mainly from steel, glass, and crystal. It required only 2 years to build and was launched in 2008 by Sultan Mizan Zainal Abidin of Terengganu. The Crystal Mosque can hold 1,800 worshippers at any given time and it has been named as one of the most beautiful mosques in the world.
Modern architecture can clearly be noticed upon reaching the entrance of the mosque, and the waters reflect the mosque’s beauty perfectly. Also complementing its modern style, the entire mosque is equipped with wireless internet and full IT facilities!
Whilst stunning from the outside, non-Muslims can enter outside of prayer times if they are wearing Islamic dress. Robes and headscarves are provided.
Address: Pulau Wan Man, 21000 Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu, Malaysia
Opening Hours: Mon to Thurs 10 am to 7 pm (open on Fridays and weekends for worship only)
Contact: +60 9-627 1111
10. Dome Of The Rock, Israel
Located in Jerusalem, the Dome of the Rock is a shrine that currently stands as the oldest extant works of Islamic architecture. Whilst not actually a mosque, it deserves special mention for its beauty and its religious significance. The nearby mosque is Masjid al Aqsa.
The original dome, which was built in 691 CE by the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik during the Second Fitna, collapsed in 1016. It was, however, rebuilt in 1021. It features beautiful architecture and mosaics that were designed after nearby Byzantine churches and palaces. The designs of the mosque have changed over the years, although its octagonal structure, which was influenced by the Byzantine Church of the Seat of Mary or the al-Qadismu, is still maintained.
At one time in the past, Muslims faced the Dome of the Rock Mosque to pray, before redirecting towards Mecca. An incredibly sacred destination, it is thought to have been the place that the Prophet Muhammad visited on his miraculous Night Journey, which involved his ascending to heaven to meet Allah and leading prayers at the mosque. It is the third most revered site in Islam, after Mecca and Medina.
The Dome of the Rock’s beautiful design has been recognised at a UNESCO World Heritage Site, joining the other two nearby structures that were also recognised: the Western Wall and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.
Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the mosque; they can, however, admire the building from the outside. Do note that you will need your passport to access Temple Mount.
Dome of the Rock
Address: Temple Mount, Jerusalem, Israel
Opening Hours: For Temple Mount, non-Muslims can visit between Sun and Thurs from 7 am to 11 am, and from 1.30 pm to 2.30 pm
Contact: +972 2628 3313
Feel spiritually enlightened, all over the world
These beautiful architectural and spiritual gems are located in different parts of the globe. So, why don’t you create a bucket list and make it a goal to visit as many of these mosques as you can? Enjoy!
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