Muslim Quarter Singapore - Kampong Glam

The Old Malay Village Goes Chic

The Muslim Quarter Singapore - also known as the Kampong Glam - is Singapore's smallest ethnic quarter and has a chic charm all of its own.

View Muslim Quarter Singapore - Kampong Glam in a larger map

And again, it is a living and working neighborhood which makes it as authentic as they come.

It is not too far from little India, so you can easily walk there by going down Sungei and Ophir Roads when you leave Serangoon Road and then turn left into North Bridge Road.

Today's quarter is a central site for Muslim life, so have a look at the quarter's Community site and get a feel for the neighborhood's vibrant life.

Where the Sultan Used to Live

The area started out as a village near the Rochor River and was the home to the local Malay aristocrats who 'ruled' Singapore before British colonization.

They were the ones who handed over everything to Raffles back in the day - had they known what was to become of the place they would have commiserated with the folks who gave up Manhattan Island two centuries before.

Istana Kampong Glam, Singapore The Sultan at the time built himself a nice Istana (= Malay for palace) on 50 acres of land. The building was restored in 2004 and today houses the Malay Heritage Center which publishes a nice walking map, just perfect for stroll through the quarter.

Since Sir Thomas Raffles designated various sections of the island to the different ethnicities, the Muslim Quarter Singapore became a general magnet for not only Malays but many Muslims and Arabs in general.

Just like Chinatown and Little India, it had its share of growing pains with the usual squalid housing, crime and general poverty during the 19th century.

Read more on its history here: Muslim Quarter Singapore - Kampong Glam

The Heart of it All

Singapore, Sultan Mosque

The centerpiece of the Kampong (= Malay for village or neighborhood) is Singapore's largest mosque, Masjid Sultan, a building replete with everything you would expect to see in a mosque: the minaret, bulging dome, pointed windows and Arabic script.

You can also find a Muslim school in the area, spice shops and the obligatory restored shophouses that used to dominate the Singapore cityscape.

Lanes, Alleys, Cafes and Clothes

Around the mosque are little lanes and streets - Haji, Arab, Muscat and Kandahar - full of boutique stores, restaurants, cafes and 'coolish' IT and designer businesses.

Here's something novel: a Swedish halal cafe, Fika Cafe.

Arab Street also seems to be the place to go for textiles and fabrics, so check it out if you are looking to make your own bags or clothes.

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