The Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque is the state mosque of Johor state in Malaysia; it is located just a few miles north of the Singaporean border. Sitting atop a prominent hill overlooking the Straight of Johor, the mosque was commissioned in 1900 by Sultan Abu Bakar; he was a highly respected monarch, widely referred to as the “Father of Modern Johor” by both his people and the international community.
The architect, Tuan Haji Mohamed Arif bin Punak, was largely inspired by English Victorian architecture, going as far as designing the unusually large four minarets in the shape of 19th century British clock towers – in fact, several other monuments in the area were built in similar fashion. But he also integrated pieces of foreign architecture as well, such as Moorish tile works and Malay features, in order to reflect the diversity of the local population.
The mosque can accommodate 2,000 worshippers at once and is commonly recognized as one of the most beautiful old mosques in Malaysia, thanks to its white-washed towers and ornate yet modest interior. It therefore doesn’t come as a surprise that the mosque is now listed as a protected heritage monument by the Malaysian Department of Museums and Antiquities. The mosque is also surrounded by a lovely garden filled with frangipani trees.
The Sultan Abu Bakar Mosque makes for an easy and fulfilling day trip from Singapore. It is accessible in just over 30 minutes north (32 kilometers/19 miles) of Singapore’s downtown core via the Nicoll Highway, the 2B, the PIE, the BKE and JI routes. Visitors should know that the mosque isn’t open to the public and can only be entered by worshippers of the Muslim faith at prayer times.