The Maldives is home to some of the most unique and beautiful mosques in the world. The first mosques were originally made of wood, coconut and palm leaves. By the middle of the 17th to early 19th centuries, coral stone mosque architecture developed and flourished.
However, only 6 coral stone mosques remain and 1 of them resides in the capital city of Maldives, Malé. “Hukuru Miskiy” or Old Friday Mosque, is the oldest mosque and is of great cultural and historical significance to the country, as it stands witness to the skills of Maldivian craftsmen of the time.
Made entirely out of interlocking coral blocks that are adorned with intricate coral carvings, the mosque was completed in 1658 after 2 years of construction during the reign of Sultan Ibrahim Iskandar. The interior of the mosque is well-known for its striking lacquer work and woodcarvings.
The area adjacent to the mosque contains a 17th century cemetery with intricately carved tombstones and tombs, with rounded tops marking the graves of women and pointed tops marking the graves of men. Gilded inscriptions on them indicate that the grave belongs to that of royalty. This cemetery was placed on the UNESCO World Heritage Site tentative list in 2013.
The successor of Hukuru Miskiy, the Grand Friday Mosque, is an impressive modern structure that dominates the skyline of the capital city. Opened in 1984, it has become a symbol of the city and is the biggest mosque in the island nation.