Once the home of Javanese theatre, blacksmiths, diamond craftsmen and traders, Kampong Glam is an area of Singapore rich in history. A diverse community of Javanese, Sumatrans, Baweanese, Banjarese, Arabs, Chinese and Indians all used to call this area home and many have left their mark on this corner of Singapore. Here are some highlights……..
Malay Heritage Centre – this former residence of Malay royalty in Singapore was previously referred to as ‘Istana Kampong Glam’. This building now showcases the culture, heritage and history of the Malay community in Singapore.
Arab Street – This area was designated for the Arab community in the 1822 Singapore Town Plan and is one of the few streets in Kampong Glam that has kept its original name. In the past Arab street was home to eating houses, goldsmiths, textile shops, flower and fruit stalls. There is even a bookshop, H.Hashim bin H. Abdullah, which opened back in the 1900s and is still run by the decedents of those who started the business.
Madrasah Alsagoff – Established in 1912 this is the oldest surviving Madrasha in Singapore. A Madrasha is a type of Islamic school and the female students of today learn Mathematics, Science and Malay language in addition to Islamic studies, Arabic and English. Its origins trace back to Syed Mohammed bin Ahmed Alsagoff who started a small school in his family house. To ensure it continued after his death he left money in his will for the cause and his nephews went on to found the school that is still in place today.
Masjid Sultan – You can’r fail to notice this prominent landmark from all around the Kampong Glam area. During the fasting month of Ramadan Musilms will gather here to await the prayer call to break their fast. This important focal point for Muslims in Singapore was built in the 1920s and in 1975 was declared a national monument.
Traditional style ‘Shop houses’ can be seen all round Singapore with the upper story used for residential accommodation and the ground story used as a shop.