It’s not often you come across a mosque named after a woman. Hajjah Fatimah Mosque takes its name from its wealthy donor, a businesswoman who donated the land the mosque is built on in the 19th century.
It used to be the site of her own house but after several robberies and a fire, she decided to move and built a mosque there instead.
Fusion of East and West
Designed by an unknown Englishman, the mosque’s architecture is an intriguing mix of European, Malay and Chinese influences.
Erected in 1846, it has an onion-shaped dome, an ablution area that looks like a Malay house with traditional Malay-Muslim woodcarvings inside.
You’ll notice Chinese glazed porcelain tiles in the parapet grilles on the windows and woodwork, on the minaret tower and the top walls of the roof parapet.
But what gets the most attention is the minaret, which decidedly resembles a church spire. It is three-tiered, with two octagonal towers and an elongated pyramid, and has often been compared to that of the first St Andrew's Church (which was replaced by the present-day edifice of St Andrew’s Cathedral).
The 'Leaning Tower' of Singapore
Other European elements include pilasters with Doric capitals on the minaret tower and the lancet-shaped doorways, bays and windows.
Over the years, due to its sandy foundation, the minaret has started to tilt toward the dome at about six degrees off centre.
Preservation work has stopped any further tilting but the inclination is still visible, much to the delight of visitors who have dubbed it Singapore’s own version of ‘the leaning tower’.