Male’,the capital of the Maldives,is the commercial center, seat of government and the location of many important historical and religious landmarks. With an area of just over 1.77 square Km, it is home to over seventy thousand people,and the busiest and the most populous island in the archipelago. In the past,it has been known as the Sultan’s island.
Male’, complete with its own artificial beach, swimming track, historic sites, and a spectacular skyline of candy-colored skyscrapers, manages to be both an island and a city. Previously a sparsely populated island, Male’has evolved into a world-class city with all the modern facilities like schools, hospitals, restaurant. The resultant effect juxtaposes its islander roots and its forward-thinking attitude-a laid-back town with both quiet and fast lanes, of course the latter being more predominant.
The Grand Friday Mosque, Masjid-al Sultan Mohamed Thakurufaanu-al-A’ Z’ am is the biggest mosque in the Maldives. It also includes the Islamic center. This grand mosque with its dominant golden dome decorates the facade of Male’ . It can accommodate over five thousand worshippers at a time. Nearly all visitors to Male’ take time to visit this magnificent landmark.
The old Friday mosque with its unique minaret and the tombs of national heroes and members of royalty resting in the quietness of its compound, gives the visitor a glimpse of the past. The art in the mosque and royal blue grounds are unique and invaluable.
Other important sites in Male’ include the tombs of legendary saints, Mulee-aage – the previous Presidential Palace, the Presidential Palace built recently, and the national museum in the Sultan Park which shows the glories of a different era. All these are within a ten minute stroll.
The fruit and vegetable market and the firewood market are busy and colorful places where islanders from outer atolls trade their goods. The fish market nearby, is always immaculately clean, until the fish is landed in the busy hours of late afternoon when fisher folk begin to arrive with the day’catch. The fishermen cutting and cleaning the fish have developed the process to an art. It is a clean and well-maintained area that generates much interest from visitors and provides a glimpse into the life of typical Maldivian fisher-folk.