Exterior of Hajjah Fatimah Mosque

It’s not often you come across a mosque named after a woman. Hajjah Fatimah Mosque takes its name from Hajjah Fatimah Sulaiman, a businesswoman who donated the land the mosque is built on in the 19th century.

The land was the site of her former house but after two robberies and a fire (from which she managed to escape unscathed), she decided to donate her land for the building of a mosque.

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 and an ablution area that looks like a Malay house with traditional Malay-Muslim wood carvings inside.

You’ll notice Chinese glazed porcelain tiles in the parapet grilles on the windows, on the minaret tower and the top walls of the roof parapet.

But what gets the most attention is the minaret, which resembles a church spire. It is three-tiered, with two octagonal towers and an elongated pyramid, and bears a close resemblance to the Neoclassical spires 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 towards 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 of Pisa.