Which Brunei Mosque Should You Visit?
In the beginning, what brought Bri and I to Brunei, and to check out a Brunei mosque or two, was the notion that we simply hadn't met anyone who had been there. So, it became a "why not?" sort of scenario. I seem to find myself in plenty of scenarios that cross my path where I think "why not?" Generally speaking, I would rather regret something I did then something I didn't do. Words to live by, I suppose.
Once again, Bri and I were couchsurfing, as we did in Saigon. This time it was a brother and sister duo, Finah and Freddy, who were something like couchsurfing legends around Bandar Seri Begawan. Finah picked us up from the airport, they took us out for food, there was a comfortable couch in the living room - it was lovely. We even met up with Freddy again a few weeks later in Gili Trawangan, Indonesia. They were well travelled and very welcoming. I'm telling you, couchsurfing is a downright wondrous travel community.
But I digress. Let's talk about a lighter topic, shall we? How about, say, religion?
Whatever your thoughts or preferences on religion, there is one fact that I feel is indisputable when considering it. The fact being that, for the most part, religion has had a profound, positive impact on the realm of architecture. Hindu temples, buddhist shrines, enormous cathedrals all inspire awe in me. When I think of my visit to Bandar Seri Begawan back in 2012, my memories have been formed around the visit to two mosques in particular. So, understandably, that's how I'll frame this post.
The Top Two Brunei Mosques in Bandar Seri Begawan
This post is obviously quick and to the point compared to a lot of my other content, but let me just note that on this article focusing on Brunei Darrusalam’s capital city Bandar Seri Begawan, I’m looking at the two Brunei mosques that really caught my eye.
I’m quite sure there is another Brunei mosque or one thousand that deserve attention, but there are the two Brunei mosques that just blew me away when I was in Bandar Seri Begawan in Brunei Darussalam.
Madjid Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque
Let me put the joking tone aside for a second to tell you this - I will never forget the wind whipping, standing before the mosque, in a completely surreal moment. Luckily, I captured it on film. This Brunei mosque is worth all the hype.
Also known as Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, it's a marvel.
It is widely considered to be one of the most beautiful mosques in the region, and, frankly, in the entire world. If you’re going to choose one Brunei mosque, you’d be smart to make it this one.
Its name is derived from the name of the 28th Sultan of Brunei, as it was him who gave the green light for its construction. It was finished in the late 1950's, and it absolutely dominates the cityscape of Bandar Seri Begawan. It's modern Islamic architecture at its finest, and, you guessed it, no expense was spared. Just try to keep your eyes off that illustrious gold dome, I dare you.
Jame' Asr Hassanil Bolkiah Mosque
It’s the largest mosque in Brunei, once again we find a brilliant piece of Islamic style architecture.
It was built in 1992 as the Brunei mosque to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the current Sultan's reign. It's spectacular. Similar to my visit to Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque, I got the feeling that it just simply could not be real, that it could not be a functioning mosque.
Well both Bri and I went inside and prayed, so I can attest to the fact that it indeed is. Honestly, I'm just going to bow out of the description on this one - it just needs to be seen. It’s the Brunei mosque of your dreams, and they spared no expense.
Which Brunei Mosque Do You Prefer?
I’d love to know from the photos which mosque you think is in more intriguing. Personally, I think both are absolutely stunning.
What you end up learning from adventures like this is that just because you haven't heard much about a place, it doesn't mean there isn't a lot to be seen, or, for that matter, felt. Each major Brunei mosque offered something different to me, and I cherished each opportunity.
It was an intensely interesting experience for Bri and I to be sleeping on the couch of our new found friends in a strict, Muslim nation's capital. To be frank, I didn't even know these mosques existed until I arrived there. And how could that be?
They moved me in ways that some of the most famous buildings in the word didn't. I make a point of going to places now that others don't because...well...Why not?
Have you visited Brunei in recent memory? Were you able to visit any of Brunei’s mosques? It’s been a little while since I’ve been to Bandar Seri Begawan, so I’d love an update?