A blend of Moorish, Mughal and Indo-Saracenic architectural styles.
Tip! Just as in any mosque, you should wear clothing which covers your legs and shoulders as well as headscarves for women, although you can borrow robes and headscarves at the entrance.
We all know the sky high Petronas Twin Towers are the top attraction in Kuala Lumpur. But that’s not all there is to see in this wonderful whirling city. As a sprawling Southeast Asian capital with a rich history, there are many other must-see landmarks in KL which allow you to get to know Malaysia and its vibrant culture.
From British colonial buildings to Islamic mosques and palaces, here are the 5 landmarks you absolutely must see during your time in Kuala Lumpur.
1. National Mosque / Masjid Negara
As the national place of worship, the size and scale of the Masjid Negara is epic. The mosque can accommodate up to 15,000 people and sits on 13 acres of surrounding gardens. The complex as a whole has a very unique design. You definitely won’t see another mosque like it anywhere else in the world.
The eye-catching roof is shaped like an origami umbrella with 16 points colored in a vivid aqua which you can spot from a mile away. Reflecting pools and fountains wrap around the entrance and the entire complex is enveloped by lush tropical gardens. The interior of the prayer hall is beautifully lit and transcendent, as is befitting of the national mosque of a vibrant country.
Be mindful and respectful of the dress-code before you visit. Non-Muslims are allowed to visit after praying hours from 9-12, 3-4 and 5:30-6:30, except on Fridays.
2. Kuala Lumpur Railway Station
Right across the street from the National Mosque, you’ll find the grand and elegant Kuala Lumpur Railway Station. The historic railway station was constructed in 1910 and shows off a gorgeous blend of Moorish, Mughal and Indo-Saracenic architectural styles. The station is no longer in use as KL Sentral now operates as the city’s central station, although you’ll still see trains zooming down the rails on their way to other destinations. It’s nice to admire the old railway since it looks as if it has stood still in time. You can go see it anytime of the day and it’s close to Chinatown and the other buildings on the Colonial Heritage Walk.
3. Colonial Walk
Malaysia was a major British colony along with Singapore in the 19th Century. Much of the colonial architecture built during this time still exists through the city. I recommend starting at Masjid Jamek and then walking along the River of Life promenade where most of the old administrative buildings can be found.
Behind Masjid Jamek you’ll find the Sessions Magistrate Court followed by Old City Hall, the former High Court building and then the Sultan Abdul Samad Building. Many of these buildings display a mix of European and Mughal architecture, which makes them a great starting point for learning about Malaysia’s history as a colony.
4. Masjid Jamek / Jamek Mosque
The Masjid Jamek is easily the most beautiful mosque in Kuala Lumpur. Officially called the Sultan Abdul Samad Jamek Mosque, this stunning place of worship was built in 1909. The gleaming white mosque with wispy domes looks as if it’s floating where the Klang and Gombak Rivers meet. The courtyard with rows of Moorish archways and star fountains under swaying palm fronds looks like a dream.
The prayer halls are visible from outside but you will have to plan accordingly around prayer times if you want to enter. Visiting hours are every day except Fridays from 8:30 AM-12:30 PM and 2:30 PM-4:30 PM. Just as in any mosque, you should wear clothing which covers your legs and shoulders as well as headscarves for women, although you can borrow robes and headscarves at the entrance.
5. National Art Gallery Malaysia
Any art-lover who visits KL can’t leave without visiting the National Art Gallery of Malaysia. The expansive museum has three floors packed with amazing works and it does not disappoint.
With an obvious focus on local Malaysian artists, the National Gallery houses artists and works which aren’t present in any other museum in the world. There are many stunning, powerful exhibitions that offer an insightful look into Malaysia’s landscapes, people, history and politics. Viewers are exposed to Malay, Peranakan, Straits Chinese and Tamil culture in both past and contemporary times. Malaysia’s National Art Gallery is truly a gem where you get the privilege of observing art and perspectives which are all too often missing in the mainstream art world.