Every suburb of Singapore has a church, mosque or temple of some kind, and within restaurants, hawker centres and office blocks you’ll find all manner of small shrines set up for one religious purpose or another. Here are some of the more important and historical places of worship.
Malay for “Sultan Mosque”, this remarkable structure is located in Kampong Glam, or the Arab Quarter. It was built in 1928 on the site of a much older mosque. The mosque offers services as well as classes, religious and legal counselling.
While it isn’t the biggest Christian church in Singapore, it is the oldest, completed in 1835. It’s located in a charming and peaceful setting near Fort Canning Park. Services are rarely held here.
Sri Mariamman Temple:
Built in 1827 for worship by immigrants from South India, this is the island’s oldest Hindu temple. Located in the heart of Chinatown, the temple boasts an ornamental tower entrance that’s a true Singapore landmark. Services and major festivals are regularly held at the temple.
Thian Hock Keng:
The “Temple of Heavenly Happiness” on Telok Ayer Street is the oldest Hokkien temple in Singapore. It was built between 1839 and 1842 to serve as a temple, school and community centre. Truly impressive is the fact that the entire structure was assembled without nails – a masterpiece of stone, tiles and wood, dragons, phoenixes, carvings and columns.
Buddha Tooth Relic Temple:
This Tang Dynasty-style temple was constructed in 2002 to house the tooth relic of the historical Buddha and serve as a Chinese Buddhist cultural centre. It holds services regularly, and provides educational opportunities and welfare services. The complex also includes a museum with ancient artefacts.
Maghain Aboth Synagogue:
Hebrew for “Shield of Our Fathers”, Maghain Aboth was completed in 1878 and is the oldest Jewish synagogue in Southeast Asia. Attached to the synagogue – located on Waterloo Street – is the Jacob Ballas Centre, built in 2007, which includes a full service kosher restaurant, kosher market and a social hall for festive meals and functions.