Exploring Kampong Glam

Learn Malay History, Culture, Food and More

A Brief History of Kampong Glam

Kampong Glam is an enclave for the Malay and Arabs community according to Raffles' Town Plan of 1822. When british came to Singapore in 1819, a treaty was signed between the British East India company, Sultan Hussein Shah of Johor and Temenggong Abdul Rahman. The treaty allowed the company to set up a trading post in Singapore.

In return, a residential area was allocated to Sultan and his family. Later, the Sultan built a palace and mosque here. Because of this, the area soon became a muslim hub with immigrants from Malacca, the Riau Islands and Sumatra of Indonesia.

The main building in the area is Istana Kampong Gelam or Sultan's Palace. It was built by Sultan Hussein around 1829 and rebuilt in 1840 for his son, Sultan Ali, by George Coleman.

Next to the Palace is the Gedung Kuning or yellow mansion, which was once the home for Sultan Hussein's grandson. It was painted yellow as Malays consider yellow to be a royal colour. The Istana has been converted into the Malay Heritage Centre since 2005 and the Gudung Kuning into a restaurant.

Another prominent and historic building in the area is Sultan Mosque. The idea of having a mosque near the Istana was from Sultan Hussein. It was built in 1824 and rebuilt in 1925. More on Sultan Mosque and its surroundings.

It was fronted by Bussorah Mall, two rows of conserved shophouses along Bussorah Street. Spend some time here and you will soon realise that local Malay enjoy a simple and unhurried life. Try walk into a shop and you will notice that the shop assistant (or the shop owner?) is not eager to sell you anything. She will be patient to answer any of your questions with a smiling face even you don't buy anything from the shop.

A popular street in the area, Arab Street, was well known as a textile heaven, especially in the 1950s and 1960s. The street, lined with two- and three-storey pre-war shophouses on both sides, is a pleasant sight for strolling and shopping.

Sultan Mosque and Arab Street Photos

sultan mosque side view

Go to Kampong Glam Photos page for more pictures

Kampong Glam Video

Indian Muslim Food: Mutabak

Kandahar Street During Fasting Month

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