The Magnificent Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta

As a country with a majority of Moslem population, it is no question that it is very easy to find their place to worship, mosque. If you are in Jakarta and want to visit mosque (yes, you can visit it, we are very welcoming you!), don’t just go to your nearest one, because you have a huge opportunity to visit one of the iconic mosques in Jakarta, Istiqlal.

History of Grand Mosque Istiqlal Jakarta

As the biggest mosque in Southeast Asia, this place attracts many locals and international visitors to come here. They come basically to pray together, which is known as “jamaah”, because for Moslems, it is believed that prayers or “shalat” will bring more merit if is done together. Aside from praying or doing other worshipping rituals, this place also open to anyone who wants to look around.


Located in Jakarta, right in front of Cathedral Jakarta. The name “Istiqlal” itself is an Arabic word for “independence”, since the mosque was built to commemorate Indonesian independence. The design of this mosque is created by Friedrich Silaban, a Christian architect from North Sumatera, the winner of design competition for this mosque. The late former president of Republic of Indonesia, Soekarno, also involved in this mosque’s planning and construction. This mosque was opened to public in 22th February 1978.

Istiqlal Mosque Jakarta

Friedrich Silaban

Istiqlal has seven entrances that was named after “Asmaul Husna”, the names of God in Islam and consists of two rectangular structures. The rectangular part of the building is covered by a 45 meter diameter central spherical dome and the number “45” itself symbolizes the 1945 Proclamation of Indonesian Independence. It also has a main dome that decorated with a stainless steel ornamental pinnacle in the form of crescent and a star.

Crescent and star symbol on the top of mosque dome

Istiqlal Mosque Jakarta

Most of the mosques in Indonesia have a dome on the top of the building, so does Istiqlal Mosque. But, besides that, in the center of the dome or somewhere in the highest place of mosques building, there are almost always a symbol in the form of crescent and a star. In the world, it is also known as a symbol of Islam. It is like a cross for Christian. Moslems often use this symbol to represent themselves as a Moslem. Why a crescent and a star? Actually there are some versions of this. One is from historical version, and the other is religious version. I will explain it from historical version first.

Two meaning of crescent and star symbol in Mosque

Historical aspect

It is said that the biggest and most successful civilization of Islam is the Ottoman dynasty that rules the heart of Europe, Constantinople and nearby areas. That time, the caliphate using a symbol of a crescent moon, which represent the position of three continents. On one end of the crescent moon, referred to Asian continent that located in the east, where the other end referring to African continent. For the center part of the moon, it is meant to symbolize Europe that actually from geographic aspect, is located between those continents. The star itself represents the capital city in Islam from those times, Istanbul.

Religious aspect

From the religious aspect, the crescent moon means a new moon, where Moslems acknowledged it as “hilal”. This hilal became a sign to determine when it is time for Eid Al-Fitr, the big day of Islam religion that celebrated after a full month of fasting in “Ramadhan”.

Fortunately, I had experience of doing Eid prayer or “Shalat Ied” in Istiqlal once. The building is so magnificent, full of people who come across Indonesia that especially come for Eid prayer in this biggest mosque of Southeast Asia. I can understand how big it is because actually I have to take a “wudhu” or ablution first before praying. Since it was the first time I come there, I almost get lost to find the place to do it, but luckily I found someone who is familiar with the building and show me how to get there. It was an unforgettable experience for me.

Istiqlal Mosque Jakarta

Bedug – a drum used to signal time for prayer – made from meranti wood from Borneo and cow skin

(pictures below)

So, if you are still curious about what kind of feeling would you have inside it, or what can you see in the mosque. Don’t have a second thought and just visit it. Are you from different religions that want to come and see? It’s fine. The caretaker will welcome your presence with open arms, but maybe you will have to put on some proper clothes that cover most of your body. But if you don’t have, the mosque will lend you a robe for both female and male visitors.

Istiqlal Mosque Jakarta

Robes for lend

As Cathedral Jakarta, where you could learn about Roman Catholic in Jakarta, you could also learn about Islam in Jakarta in Istiqlal. Both of these places will show you how to live with tolerance in this diverse country and bring peace to your heart. So, if you are in Jakarta, be sure to visit these places. You would not regret it. Find out more about how to visit Istiqlal Jakarta and Cathedral in one day here. Cheers!