Brunei hosts some of Asia’s most beautiful examples of Islamic architecture, blending traditional and futuristic elements with elegance. Culture Trip presents the best of Brunei’s religious structures, including Bandar Seri Begawan’s most illustrious mosque and one that looks like it came from the Medina in Marrakesh.
The profoundly spiritual Sultanate on Borneo Island houses some of Southeast Asia’s most stunning mosques. An unlimited national budget, combined with a leader renowned for his refined tastes paves the way for elegance. Discover our favourite mosques in Brunei, from the traditional and opulent to mosques with North African influences.
Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque: Brunei’s Star
The Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is the pride of Bandar Seri Begawan. With marble minarets and a gold dome, it presents a modern Islamic style. Look closely at this grand structure and see a mixture of Malay and Mughal elements. Floral gardens surround the exterior, while an artificial lagoon acts as a reflecting pool. Inside, Saudi Arabian carpets cover the floors as British chandeliers hang from ceilings. We recommend visiting from the Waterfront and snapping a photo of the mosque next to its 16th-century Royal Barge.
Jame’ Asr Hassanil Bolkiah: Brunei’s Largest Mosque
The 29 golden domes on Brunei’s largest mosque honour the nation’s 29th and current sultan. Located a short drive from central Bandar Seri Begawan in Kampong Kiarong, the mosque is an architectural masterpiece. Landscaped gardens and fountains surround the exterior as minarets soar 52 metres (190 feet) into the air. A total of 5,000 worshipers can pray inside the artistic interior at any one time.
Moroccan-Style Ash-Shaliheen Mosque
Ash-Shaliheen Mosque looks like something straight from Marrakesh. The Moroccan-styled structure opened in 2012 and sits next to the Prime Minister’s Office. Turquoise domes complement its sandstone-coloured walls. Renowned Egyptian architect Abdel-Wahed El-Wakil blends traditional North African elements with a contemporary flair. An attractive courtyard filled with fountains surround the mosque. Step inside and find a mosaic of hand-chiselled tiles decorating the walls with Moroccan chandeliers.
A mosque on stilts at Brunei’s University
The University Mosque in Brunei caters to local students and nearby villagers. With a stilted appearance and pointy golden-brown roofs, it manifests a simple yet modern design. A beautifully-tiled archway forms the entrance to the complex. Step inside to the brightly-lit prayer hall holding up to 1,800 worshippers.
A rural mosque with a minaret from the future
Masjid Kampung Kulapis in the village of the same name presents a typical example of a rural mosque in Brunei. The small white-washed structure caters mostly to the residents in the nearby communities. Arches don the exterior as an almost futuristic-looking minaret soars behind. Admire the blue patterned main entrance.
Brunei’s best example of a rural mosque
The rectangular Pengiran Muda Abdul Mateen lies a few kilometres (about one mile) west of Bandar Seri Begawan in Limau Manis. Combining elements of both Malay and traditional styles with contemporary Islamic architecture, this is one of the more beautiful rural mosques. Two fountains stand outside, acting as a frame for the structure. This mosque in Brunei can hold up to 1,600 worshippers.
The ‘Floating Mosque’
Balai Ibadat is one of the most attractive mosques in Brunei for its setting. The tiny green mosque sits in the heart of the floating village, Kampong Ayer, serving its 13,000 permanent residents. Despite having a relatively unassuming appearance by Bruneian standards, few mosques hover above a river. We recommend snapping a photograph when exploring Kampong Ayer’s labyrinth of boardwalks.
The most geometric mosque in Brunei
Masjid Mohammad Bolkiah lies a few kilometres (about one mile) north of Bandar Seri Begawan near Brunei’s airport. The white-washed arched exterior dons several different-sized golden domes. Stand at the side and marvel at its size. But get the angle right and the domes combine with the minaret to form a triangular appearance. This somewhat humble mosque in Brunei first opened in 1979 and caters for up to 3,000 people.
Classic Malay styles in Kampung Mentiri
Kampung Mentiri’s mosque boasts a classical Malay style of architecture. The multi-level green roof sits on a stilted orange-red base. From a distance, this mosque in Brunei stands proud next to its minaret that looks a bit like a clock tower. If you visit, take photographs near the roundabout to get the full effect of the angular architecture.
The ‘Pyramid’ Mosque
Few mosques in Brunei resemble a pyramid on stilts. Al-Muhtadee near Kampong Ayer presents a unique style of architecture. Four minarets topped with a green dome form the box surrounding the central triangular prayer halls. The manicured lawns create the perfect backdrop for photographs of this majestic pyramid-like structure.
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