If you’re heading to the exotic Maldives and spending some time in the capital city of Malé, you won’t want to miss the chance to discover a slice of important Maldivian history at the Malé Friday Mosque. This mosque, also known as Hukuru Miskiiy, dates back to 1656, making it the oldest mosque in this archipelagic nation.
The historic mosque is a superb example of craftsmanship. The builders constructed the walls using coral boulders taken from the seabed and cut into stone blocks. These walls feature intricate carvings further enhanced by prettily carved wooden doors and exquisite Arabic lacquer calligraphy.
Also within the mosque complex are a large minaret (which resembles a wedding cake), coral stone water wells, a sundial and a cemetery. The latter houses mausoleums and tombstones of curved coral stone and serves as the resting place for past kings and dignitaries. Because of its overall quality, workmanship and historical significance, UNESCO added the mosque complex to its Tentative World Heritage List in 2008.
For close to four centuries, local Maldivians considered the Malé Friday Mosque the main mosque of this densely populated city, until the nearby bigger and more modern Grand Friday Mosque opened its doors in 1984 to serve the local Islamic community. Nevertheless, the Malé Friday Mosque still functions as a place of worship, and when you visit, you may have to get authorisation from an official from the Ministry of Islamic Affairs to go inside. This usually is not an issue as long as you are dressed modestly (with covered shoulders and legs and headscarves for women). Otherwise, plan to stick to the outside areas. Across the road from the complex is another Malé landmark, the Muliaage Palace, the official residence of the President of the Maldives.