Possibly Malaysia’s oldest mosque
Dating from 1728, Kampung Hulu Mosque is possibly the oldest in Malaysia—Tengkera Mosque two kilometres out of town was built in the same year, so there is some debate among historians.
At the time of Portuguese occupation earlier traditional mosques were destroyed and no formal structures for worship were built (other than Roman Catholic) until after the Dutch became the ruling power. In the beginning the Calvinist Dutch too were rather parochial and razed the Catholic Churches, but as a result of a change of policy that allowed greater religious freedom, a parcel of land was granted by the VOC in the early 18th century to build Kampung Hulu Mosque. (As an aside, this same policy resulted in the building of the Church of Saint Peter in Melaka slightly earlier in 1710, now the oldest functioning Catholic church in Malaysia.)
This Dutch promotion of cultural diversity may be the underpinning influence in what became the “Melaka Style” in mosque architecture: a conglomeration of design styles as varied as the traders who passes through her port. The delightfully quaint Kampung Hulu Mosque features a steep triple-tiered roof adopted from Hindu temple architecture, topped with a Chinese-style floral crown and ornamental eves together with a Chinese-pagoda-style minaret. Above the entrance gate, a pavilion holds a Bedug drum, the traditional Malay instrument to call the faithful to prayer. The interior holds Dutch chandeliers and a beautiful carved gilt mimbar (pulpit) reminiscent of the Central Javanese style.
Kampung Hulu Mosque is open to visitors outside of prayer time. Dress modestly covering your arms and legs, and for women bring a headscarf. It’s worth a short stop at this lovely mosque along with a visit to nearby Kampung Kling Mosque, also built in the Melaka Style and perhaps marginally more charming. To compare with contemporary Islamic architecture visit modern Melaka Straits Mosque.
These tours are provided by Travelfish partner GetYourGuide.
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