Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque in the capital Bandar Sei Begawan, Brunei, at night.

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Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque

Bandar Seri Begawan

Named after the 28th Sultan of Brunei (the late father of the current sultan), Masjid Omar Ali Saifuddien is surrounded by an artificial lagoon that serves as a reflecting pool, mirroring its gleaming golden domes. This being Brunei, the interior is almost as lavish as the exterior: the floor and walls are made from the finest Italian marble, the chandeliers were crafted in England and a 3.5-million-piece glass mosaic overlaying real gold leaf covers the main dome.

The mosque's 52m-high minaret makes it the tallest building in central BSB, and woe betide anyone who tries to outdo it – apparently the nearby Islamic Bank of Brunei building originally exceeded this height and so had the top storey removed by order of the sultan. The ceremonial stone boat sitting in the lagoon is a replica of a 16th-century mahligai (royal barge).

Come evening, Taman Mahkota Julbi Emas park at the back of the mosque becomes the happening centre of city life in Bandar. Whenever the weather is dry, families gather to walk, jog, fly kites and amble around in rented pedal carts (B$10 per hour), pausing to admire the onion domes through a giant picture frame erected for the purpose. Behind the park, a footbridge leads over the Kedayan River to the stilt villages on the north bank of Sungai Brunei.

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