As one of the many remarkable features that beautify Central Jakarta’s cityscape, the Istiqlal Mosque (Masjid Istiqlal) inspires with its enormity and contemporary design. Opened in 1978, Istiqlal Mosque took 17 years to complete and was erected to memorialize Indonesia’s independence from the Netherlands. Its name, Istiqlal, means independence in Arabic. The mosque stands opposite Jakarta Cathedral. Notice how the two buildings showcase the nation’s acceptance of religious diversity.
The mosque has seven entrances, each of which symbolizes one of the Seven Heavens of Islam. Watch as worshippers pass through the entrances, remove their shoes and cleanse themselves at the ablution basins.
Gaze in awe at the lavishness of the mosque’s main prayer hall. It is dominated by a 148-foot (45-meter) diameter dome supported by a collection of 12 stainless steel columns. Surrounding the hall are four tiers of balconies. Look for the mihrab, a niche that marks the mosque’s closest point to Mecca. Note the Arabic calligraphy, which spells the names of Allah and Muhammed.
Running from the main hall are a series of arcades connecting to an open-air courtyard. Look up at the soaring minaret, which transmits the call to prayer every day. Located beyond the southern corner of the courtyard are a fountain and pool. The fountain projects water during important Islamic ceremonies and holidays.
The mosque is open daily and admission is free, although donations are welcome. Remove your footwear before entering. Access to the main hall is restricted to Muslims only however, non-Muslims can see it from one of the balconies. Guides are available to show non-Muslim visitors around the mosque.
Located at the eastern edge of Central Jakarta’s Gambir district, Istiqlal Mosque is easy to reach via public transportation. Walk here from the Gambir or Juanda train stations. Southeast of the mosque is Merdeka Square, a ceremonial plaza with gardens, sculptures and the National Monument. Also nearby visit the Immanuel Church and the National Gallery of Indonesia.