The grand Istiqlal Mosque of Jakarta, was inspired by Indonesia’s first President, Soekarno, but took 17 years in construction. Finally on 22 February 1978, Indonesia’s second President, Soeharto inaugurated it as the country’s national mosque. The Istiqlal mosque is the largest mosque in South East Asia both in structure and capacity, as it can accommodate congregations of up to 120,000 people.
Located at Jalan Taman Wijaya Kusuma in Central Jakarta, on the north eastern corner of the Merdeka Square, the Istiqlal Mosque stands out with its 45m diameter dome and tall minarets.
Standing almost right across the old Catholic Cathedral at the corner of Jalan Lapangan Banteng, the Istiqlal mosque was designed in 1954 by Frederick Silaban, a Christian architect from North Sumatra.
The mosque has a large rectangular prayer hall with a 45 meter diameter dome supported by 12 round columns, and has 4 levels of balconies. Its interior is mostly simple.
In his brief 18 hours visit to Indonesia on 9th and 10th. November 2010, US President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama made a special visit to the Istiqlal mosque.
Later President Obama praised the Istiqlal Mosque as a symbol of religioustolerance which characterizes Indonesia and Indonesians, inspiring the world.