With its bright white walls and majestic black domes, the 130-year old grand mosque is a magnificent site. It was here that hundreds of people sought refuge during the 204 tsunami that flattened most of the landscape of the city. The tsunami was so damaging, it demolished any structures, old and new, along the way of the tearing swell. This is a fact that gives significance to the Grand Mosque of Baiturrahman in the city of Banda Aceh. It is more than just a masterpiece of Islamic architecture in the nation, its survival from the tsunami is viewed by many residents as a direct intervention from the divine.
Royal scripture has it that the mosque was firstly built from wood in 1612 under the reign of Sultan Iskandar Muda. Some say that it was built even earlier in 1292 by Sultan Alaidin Mahmudsyah. During the Aceh war in 1873, the mosque was burnt to the ground. Realizing the value and its importance to the people of Aceh, in 1879, Major General Vander acting as current military general, rebuilt the mosque as it was once promised by Governor General Van Lansberge in 1877. Two more domes were added by the Dutch in 1936 and another two by the Indonesian government in 1957.
The Grand Mosque of Baiturrahman is located in the center of the city of Banda Aceh. Characterized by a 35-meter tower, 7 grand domes and 7 minarets, the Baiturrahman is probably the prototype for many mosques in Indonesia and Malaysian peninsula; supersede the layered roofed-style mosque.