Tourist Attraction: Masjid Raya Baiturrahman
The original Masjid Raya ("Grand Mosque") was built in 1612 during the reign of Sultan Iskandar Muda. Some say the original mosque was built even earlier in 1292 by Sultan Alaidin Mahmudsyah. The original royal mosque featured a multi-tiered thatched roof, a typical feature of Acehnese architecture.
When the Colonial administration of the Dutch East Indies attacked the Kraton During the First Aceh Expedition on 10 April 1873, the Acehnese attacked the KNIL from the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque. From some flares shot onto the thatched roof, the mosque caught fire. General van Swieten promised the local rulers he would rebuild the mosque and create a warm place for mercy. In 1879 the Dutch rebuilt the Mosque Baiturrahman as a gift to — and to reduce the anger of — the Acehnese. Construction only began in 1879, when the first stone was laid by Tengku Qadhi Malikul Adil, who became its first imam, and was completed on 27 December 1881 during the reign of Muhammad Daud Syah, the last sultan of Aceh. Many Acehnese initially refused to pray at Baiturrahman because it was built by the Dutch, whom they were warring against. Nowadays, however, it is a source of pride for Banda Aceh.
The mosque survived the 2004 earthquake and tsunami with minor damages such as wall cracks. The earthquake had slightly tilted and cracked the 35-meter minaret by the main gate. During the disaster, the mosque served as a temporary shelter for displaced persons and only reopened for prayers after two weeks. At first, the mosque featured only one dome and one minaret. More domes and minarets were added in 1935, 1958 and 1982. Today the mosque has seven domes and eight minarets, including the highest in Banda Aceh.