The first mosque on this site was built in the early 1820s with a S$3,000 grant from the East India Company. The current structure, built in 1928 by Denis Santry of Swan & Maclaren—the architect who designed the Victoria Memorial Hall—is a dramatic building with golden domes and minarets that glisten in the sun. The walls of the vast prayer hall are adorned with green and gold mosaic tiles on which passages from the Koran are written in Arabic. The main dome has an odd architectural feature: hundreds of brown bottles, stacked five or more rows deep, are jammed in neck first between the dome and base. No one knows why. Five times a day—at dawn, 12:30, 4, sunset, and 8:15—the sound of the muezzin, or crier, calls the faithful to prayer. At midday on Friday, the Islamic Sabbath, seemingly every Malay in Singapore enters through one of the Sultan Mosque's 14 portals to recite the Koran. During Ramadan, the month of fasting, the nearby streets, especially Bussorah, and the square
in front of mosque are lined with hundreds of stalls selling curries, cakes, and candy; at dusk Muslims break their day's fast in this square. Non-Muslims, too, come to enjoy the rich array of Muslim foods and the party atmosphere. The best view of the Sultan Mosque is at the junction of Bussorah Street and Beach Road.