One of the finest mosques in South East Asia was built by the Dutch

Image :Archnet

Masjid Baiturrahman, in Banda Aceh, Indonesia, represents one of the first examples of a domed mosque in Southeast Asia.

Masjid Baiturrahman replaced a mosque built in 1872 by Sultan Nur al-Alam. The original mosque, named Mesjid Raya or Grand Mosque, was said to replicate a 1614 mosque built by Sultan Iskandar Muda with its layers of wide-hipped roofs. When the kingdom of Aceh resisted Dutch mercantile treaties in 1873, the Dutch invaded Banda Aceh, starting the 30 years Aceh War, and destroying the newly constructed Mesjid Raya. In an effort to persuade the Acehnese to end their resistance, the Dutch rebuilt this central mosque

The architect, de Bruchi, modeled the new mosque on a Mughal (ruled the Indian Subcontinent 1526-1858) plan which had not been seen before in Southeast Asia. Whereas the previous mosque was laid out on a square plan with a four-tiered roof, this new Dutch creation copied many stylistic elements of Mughal mosques. These Mughal elements were further embellished with Moorish* touches, such as the tear shaped arches and the arabesque plaster moldings.

In 1936 two side domes were added. In 1957 a fourth and fifth dome were added at the rear, completing a symbolism of the five pillars of the Indonesian Pancasila. Also, in 1957 two minarets were added and the mosque was renamed Masjid Baiturrahman.

* The term Moors generally refers to Muslims from North Africa.

Extracts from Masjid Baturrachman at Archnet

Research by Nimira Dewji



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