The capital of Jordan holds the national mosque of the country, quite naturally. It bears notice that the city also held the previous national mosque, which was the King Abdullah Mosque. This earlier and somewhat smaller mosque gave up its status as the national mosque to the King Hussein Mosque relatively recently-to be precise, in 2006. The second mosque is not just newer but also larger, capable of holding almost twice as many persons in its prayer hall as the older mosque could.
To clarify something that may arise as a point of confusion to the Amman traveller, there are two mosques in the capital that go by the name “King Hussein Mosque”. There is an older one from the 1920’s and then there is the newer one that is rightly the subject of this article, the King Hussein Bin Talal Mosque. The latter was constructed under the commission of King Abdullah II and named after his late father.
The King Hussein Bin Talal Mosque is among the most beautiful modern Islamic structures in the country. It employs much the same basic traditions of architecture as other mosques in the country-hence the 4-minaret, 1-dome design as well as the heavy emphasis on geometric symmetry and motifs in the design-but it does have an air of the contemporary about it as well. The large edifice is faced entirely in white from all sides, with trimmings of brown stone here and there, and its gleaming walls can serve a fine contrast to onlookers from outside, what with the profusion of conifers surrounding it. The mosque has a parking lot attached to it as well, and other points of interest to the tourist may be found within, including a lecture area and a library in the first storey. Visitors should not forget to visit the Hashemite History Museum in the structure too.
Other interesting features of Amman’s King Hussein Mosque include the fact that the king and queen of Amman both have offices in this grand structure, which sits in the west end of city. This basically means that there may be days when security or entry is tighter or more difficult, owing to the presence of the royal personages in the compound. The mosque also features a smaller prayer area that is exclusively for women, which is typical of mosques in general. As with all mosques, remember to observe the Islamic rules of courtesy and religious respect if you do go to this site. If you are female, do not forget to cover your head with a hijab and wear the traditional abaya. Both sexes have to take off their shoes prior to entering the prayer hall, as people praying in it get on their knees to worship: that is why there is a thick carpet in the hall, come to it. Finally, check the mosque schedule carefully to find out whether or not it is admitting non-Islamic (if this applies to you) visitors or not on the day of your visit. A little travel tip would be to consider a night time visit too: not only are there fewer persons but the mosque looks magnificent when lit up during the evening.