Category: Landmark, Mosque
Location: Bandar Seri Begawan, Brunei
If you visit the Jame mosque first, this mosque pales in comparison, especially after listening to the tour guide rattles off the facts about the newer mosque. But photography-wise, the simple white and gold colour scheme with a blue-sky background makes for a great photo, and some people prefer this mosque to the newer one.
Lost Ratings: ***
All city tours make a stop at this mosque, but if you wait for a while, the crowds will clear and you can enjoy the mosque by yourself again.
Visitors to Brunei’s capital city, Bandar Seri Begawan, will not be able to miss this magnificent golden-domed mosque as it stands out like a beacon in the city centre. Indeed, at 52m, the mosque was for a long time the tallest building in Brunei, as no other buildings were allowed to be built higher than the mosque, to reflect the importance of Islam in this tiny Muslim country. Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque has since been eclipsed by the newer and bigger Jame Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque. Nevertheless, backpackers and individual travelers still make a visit to this mosque as it is conveniently located within walking distance of Brunei’s youth hostel and most other hotels in the city.
The mosque is named after the 28th Sultan of Brunei, who was the reigning Sultan at the time the mosque was built and who is known as the architect of modern Brunei. Construction started in 1954 and was completed in 1958. With construction materials imported from all over the world (Italian marble, gold mosaic, granite from Shanghai, chandeliers and stained glass from England, hand-made carpets from Arab and Belgium), the mosque is said to be one of the most beautiful in the Asia-Pacific region. The most striking feature is the main dome that is covered with gold. Designed by the Italian architect Cavalieri R Nolli, the sultan himself made the initial plans for the mosque. The mosque is surrounded on 3 sides by an artificial lagoon and it is at night that the brightly-lit mosque looks the most beautiful with its reflection captured in the mirror-like lake. A bridge at the back leads right to the adjacent water village as it is the Sultan’s intention that the mosque be accessible to all. The mosque can accommodate about 3000 worshippers. The boat-like structure on the lagoon is known as a mahligai and is a 16th century replica of a royal barge. It was built later in 1967 to commemorate the 1400th anniversary of Nuzul al-Quran. Religious ceremonies used to be staged at the barge during the 1970s.
Omar mosque is located within 5 to 15 minutes walk from most hotels in the city centre. It is nearby the bus station. Just follow the golden dome that stands out above all the surrounding buildings.
Visiting Hours: Daily except Thursday and Friday: 8am – 12pm, 2pm – 3pm, 5pm – 6pm