Thanks to its survival in the face of the most devastating tsunami in living memory, Baiturrahman Mosque holds a special place in the hearts of the Acehnese. It symbolizes Aceh’s indelibly vibrant Islamic culture, its glittering black-against-white design holding steadfast against anything nature could throw its way.
The present structure dates back to 1881; it was built by the Dutch to replace a 12th-century mosque that had been destroyed by previous battles. The seven jet-black domes recall those of Mughal India; the mosque interior takes up some 4,760 square meters, good enough to accommodate 9,000 worshipers simultaneously.
A visit to the Baiturrahman Grand Mosque is de rigueur for any trip to Banda Aceh—it’s hard to miss, after all, given its location in the city center next to the market. The Aceh Tsunami Museum stands some 600m south of the mosque—visit this afterward to see how the city bounced back from disaster.