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Uganda: Gadhafi National Mosque

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Gadhafi National Mosque | Uganda | Africa

[Visited: February 2011]

It was impossible not to note the large building on Old Kampala Hill when I was on my way to the Kasubi Tombs. I had read about the history of the mosque, and decided to pay a visit later on. After a few hours, walking back from the tombs, it was very easy to locate the mosque: it dominates the skyline of the city. When I passed the gate, a friendly guard hooked up with me and led me to the huge terrace on top of the small prayer hall at ground level. A big brass-coloured arch indicated that the main entrance would have been somewhere else; we used the stairs on the side. The wooden doors of the mosque were closed and my guard took care of that. I entered a vast space which, according to the guide, could house some 7,000 male muslims and, on the first floor, some 2,500 for women.

Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): Arch and cupolas of Gadhafi National Mosque

It was a Thursday, and this enormous prayer hall is apparently only used on Fridays and special occasions, so I had it all to myself - the more so, when my guide went outside to answer a call. I felt totally dwarfed by it. The arches and pillars, the big dome with its fine decorations, and the gigantic prayer carpet, and the light entering through brightly coloured stained glass windows, give the mosque a very spacious feel. Then again, it will probably feel totally different when full of praying muslims. The different parts of the mosque come from different corners of the world: Egypt, Morocco, and other countries. We climbed the stairs to the first floor, the prayer place for women. It offers a great view of the prayer hall and gives an even better idea of its size.

Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): Lantern near the mihrab in the main prayer hall

Once outside, the guide led me to the minaret, which offered a nice opportunity for a work-out to reach the top over stairs that looked notably older than the rest of the complex. From here, fantastic views of the city, the surrounding hills, and the prominent buildings on top of them. The call for prayer is done right in the main prayer hall but broadcast from this high minaret. Once down again, I walked to the parking lot which offers a frontal view of the Gadhafi National Mosque. As the name suggests, the mosque was paid for by the Libyan leader, while initially, construction was started in the 1970s by the infamous Ugandan dictator Idi Amin. After he was toppled, the project was abandoned and picked up by Gadhafi who personally opened the mosque. Apart from being a house of Allah in the middle of Kampala, the mosque is also a statement of foreign influence in the Ugandan capital.

Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): The mosque dominates the skyline of Kampala
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): Brightly coloured stained glass windows and lanterns in the main prayer hall
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): Looking at the main prayer hall from a corner
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): Looking at the chandeliers from above
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): Coloured stained glass in the main prayer hall of the mosque
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): Chandelier and cupola of the main prayer hall in close-up
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): Richly decorated cupola with chandelier seen from below
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): Decorations of the mosque in close-up
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): One of the many lamps of the mosque in detail
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): Stairs leading to the top of the minaret
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): The main cupolas of the main prayer hall seen from the minaret
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): The mosque seen from the parking lot
Picture of Gadhafi National Mosque (Uganda): Entrance sign of the mosque

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