The Great Mosque of Medan

December 2015 I got to visit Medan, which is located in North Sumatra, Indonesia. Beside tasting the endless delicious street food, whether you’re a tourist or not, when you come to Medan, visiting or at least having had a glimpse of the Maimun Castle and The Grand Mosque of Medan is mandatory! Then again, they’re only 200 meters apart.

The Grand Mosque Al-Mashun is one of the many significant historical buildings in Medan. This mosque marks a history of the relation between the East-Indies and The Sultanate of Deli. Sultan Ma’moen Al Rasyid Perkasa Alamsyah was the one who initiated the building of this mosque. This mosque took three years to build (1906-1909). The first prayer was a friday prayer in 1906 and it has never stopped operating ever since. This mosque can get up to 1500 person btw.

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When you visit big cities in Indonesia, it is likely that you will come across colonial buildings from the East-Indies era. One of the many typical of colonial buildings are that the architecture has been modified to adapt to tropical weather i.e. high ceilings, big opening for ventilation, etc. And since we were colonized by the Dutch (for 350 years) the form of architecture were also mainly influenced by Dutch architecture. However this mosque is quite different. The  Dutch architect behind this glorious building, took a different style for the design. Using Middle East, Morocco, India and Spain elements within the style. According to the guide that I had interviewed, this mosque is in Moorish style.

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The mosque has 5 domes as a symbol of 5 prayer times and 8 pillars to symbolize 8 cardinal directions. Now, let’s talk about the colors! The colors you see within the interior, exterior patterns are mostly yellow/gold, green, red and blue. Each color also has their own philosophy. Yellow is the color of Melayu. It is usually accompanied with the color green. If you pay attention the Maimun Castle you will see that those colors are dominantly used in the palace. Red is for tobacco. Tobacco and mosque? Does it make sense? Actually it does. The Deli area was one of the biggest tobacco producers in the world. Even in those years, according to the guide, Deli had exported tobacco to places such as Cuba.They are proud of their tobacco, so they put in that red color for the sake of local touch to the mosque. Last but not least, blue, which is the color for peace.

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There is definitely a lot going on in the design itself. The carving, the details are mesmerizing! The carrara marble are sent from Italy, The chandelier is from France, the stained glass are from China, there is a longcase clock which was a gift from Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands.

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Honestly, how can we not love this?

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It is amazing on how very detailed the work and ornaments are! Very well preserved! One of the door to get into the praying hall seen from the corridor. Moroccan shape door with colors!

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The patterns are also unique, using elements such as nature, even symbolic of people! If you take a close look at the pattern above, it is a symbol of person sitting. And by the repetition, it creates the impression of people sitting next to each other, like in prayer. That, is deep!

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Deep? Yes! I’ve always loved philosophy behind details! Because it’s soulful and beautiful. Have you ever imagined how much time and thought the designer has put into that pattern? Juggling between philosophy, art, technical work to finally achieve the final design of the pattern that now lasts more than a century!

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Tiles on the corridor ceiling. The tiles are all still original from a century ago. Just amazing!

In conclusion, Check this place out! Especially if you’re into history and design. It’s quite interesting to see a ‘colonial building’ that is not typical and has other traits. The ornaments, every inch of detail is worth to be appreciated.

The pictures are all taken by me. If you happen to use them for either private or academic purposes, kindly link them to this blog. Thank you very much and I hope you enjoyed this post.