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Kampong Glam

Kampong Glam (4)

In Malay, the word Kampong means village.  Glam, also a Malay word, is a tree that prospered here in the early years of modern Singapore. At first Kampong Glam was the name of a small fishing village at the mouth of the Mochor river.

Already in 1819, Britain had reached an agreement with Sultan Hussein Shah to cede the island to the East India Company in exchange for a certain sum of money and the Kampong Glam area, among other things.  Sir Stamford Raffles designated this area for the Malays and Muslim immigrants in 1822.  In reality, this area experienced spontaneous growth and became a cosmopolitan area mixing Arab merchants, Javanese food vendors, Chinese artisans and blacksmiths and Muslim pilgrims who stopped here to stock up for their long journey to Mecca. 

 The origins of Kampong Glam’s large Muslim community date back to the building of the Sultan palace in the 1840s, followed soon after by the elegant Sultan Mosque, completely rebuilt in 1924. 

By the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries Kampong Glam became a centre for commerce, full of shop houses and residential buildings, where Malays, Arabs, Chinese and Indians lived in harmony. So in the last twenty years of the last century, several structures in the area were declared national monuments and the neighbourhood is now a preserved area.

Of course, today it is one of the areas with the most deeply rooted cultural heritage in Singapore. We can see ancient trades that have developed here over more than 5 generations, monuments that are over 150 years old and practices that are even older.

Here, crowded together, are buildings of great historical value: schools, places of worship, houses, etc. Be sure to visit the former Sultan's Palace, now the Malay Heritage Centre, where you can learn about this community in great detail. Also, don’t miss the Sultan and Fatimmah Hajjah Mosques. Remember that they are places of worship so you must dress and behave appropriately.

Just like Little India and Chinatown, Kampong Glam has been restored and renovated from top to bottom. In addition to the important cultural tours we have already mentioned, we recommend that you just walk through the streets full of their own culture, drink something in one of its restaurants, and buy a gift to take home.

Be sure to stroll along Arab Street, Baghdad Street and Bussorah Street. They are by far the liveliest. Their shop houses are now home to international designers, prestigious art galleries and chic restaurants. In contrast, others house old blacksmiths, or shops selling crafts or religious objects. No doubt, a curious mix that you are sure to love.

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