Cambridge Central Mosque: The first Eco Mosque in Europe

Back In January, I didn’t go abroad anywhere as work was really busy and I’d just had time off for Christmas so I couldn’t take any more days. Instead I made the choice to take advantage of a few free tours I’d been offered locally and do a little bit of doorstep exploring. The first of these was at the absolutely wonderful Cambridge Central Mosque.

Inside the Mosque

The History

The Mosque here is new, having opened in 2019. It’s on a site about a 40 minute walk from the centre of Cambridge along Mill Road. Previously the site was home to everything from a bowling alley, to a petrol station, to a John Lewis warehouse. At the same time, the local Muslim population was growing, and existing Mosques couldn’t house worshippers – to the point they were having to pray on the street during busy prayer times.

So once the John Lewis warehouse stopped being operational, The Muslim Academic Trust decided to buy the site in 2009, and raise the £23m needed to fund the building of a brand new Mosque here. It really struck me that I manage projects at work for more than that that deliver not nearly as much as this has – to me it was £23m well spent for the local community and city I call home.

The Building

The building is amazing. It has been built so considerately, with a lot of thoughtful touches – I’ll do my best to remember some of them!

Firstly, there’s parking underground. This was because often city mosques can lead to lots of illegal on-road parking, which local residents were really worried about. This makes it super easy and convenient to visit and means your car isn’t blocking anyone’s drive or pavements.

Approaching the Mosque, the first thing you see is the garden. I’d noticed at other Mosques I’ve visited around the world, they don’t have a front garden – it’s normally a courtyard in the middle. My tour guide explained that this is in homage to the fact the Mosque is in England – we love our front gardens here, and the Mosque wanted to stay in keeping with that. Other interesting points about the garden were that it had a yew tree hedging in the same way many Christian churches do, again to symbolise understanding of other religions important to the community.

In the Mosque’s front garden

In the centre of the garden is a beautiful octagonal fountain, with 4 entry points representing the 4 seas of Islam (water, honey, milk and wine). The octagon is then reflected as you walk in to the entrance hall of the Mosque which is full of Octagonal patterns on the floor and ceiling. Geometry is important in Islamic design and the symmetry was so beautiful to look at. The roof also has areas that encourage swifts to nest in it, to help the endangered bird find safe homes.

Inside you also start to appreciate the ‘trees’ everywhere. These were perhaps my favourite design element, being multi purpose. Of course, one is that they are eco and made of wood (only 2 companies in the world can bend the wood in the way required), meaning the building is made only of natural materials. They also keep the front of the building shaded so that it doesn’t get too hot in the summer, and warm in the winter so it doesn’t lose too much heat. The trees are also a nod to a local neighbour – King’s College Chapel, the most famous Christian structure in Cambridge. I loved this link, it’s just so harmonious to reflect the Mosques entire community.

The brick work on the walls of the entrance is also symbolic, with the raised red bricks spelling Arabic words – the photo below shows the word Allah, or God, written 4 times in a quadrant.

Moving through to the Prayer Hall was really special. Having this huge space to myself was quite awe inspiring and incredibly peaceful. All religions are allowed in the Prayer Hall, and there are some thoughtful touches – for example, there is a woman and baby area which is sound proof so even parents dealing with screaming babies can join in the prayer and not worry about the noise!

In the Prayer Hall

The Prayer Hall continues with its thoughtful symbolism. It has stained glass windows – another nod to the Christian church, but in Arabic shapes to merge the two religions. It also has links to the three holiest Islamic sites – Mecca, Jerusalem and Medina. There is a piece of cloth from Mecca, tiles from Jerusalem and design elements from Medina.

Beyond the Building

Beyond the Building, the Mosque also acts as a community space. There is a conference room area, which houses a few interesting exhibits on the Islamic world’s contribution to science, maths and medicine. There is also a little Cafe, and some amazing bathrooms which feel more like a spa than a toilet.

In the conference room

I really did feel like the Mosque has been so considerate of where it is. It is a Muslim building, of course, and when I enter we respect those religious traditions and beliefs – but I also feel a connection to the non-Muslim Cambridge community. It brings the two together. It’s a Mosque, but it’s a very definite English Mosque and actually a very definitely Cambridge Mosque. I love that, and it reflects the diversity of our city and the links between our religious groups.

I’m so pleased I visited, and really do encourage anyone who visits Cambridge to do the same. You don’t need to be a Muslim, just interested in learning about other cultures. And in today’s society, isn’t that more important than ever to do.

Thanks so much for reading. I hope you found it interesting to learn about the Eco Mosque here in Cambridge. And if you’re interested in other things to do in Cambridge, please have a look at:


  1. Incredible symmetry on, out, and in the mosque! Even more impressive is its eco-friendly message it aims to spread…looks like a welcoming center not just for Muslims, but also for people of any faith!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Wow!!! What a beautiful elegant mosque and even more important, an Eco mosque! That’s the first I’ve heard of it which is an amazing Islamic concept of conserving whatever you can. I am in awe of the structure and I love how all spaces are bathed in natural light. It definitely represents a new landmark standard for spiritual centres across the world. Thanks for sharing and have a good day 🙂 Aiva xx

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  3. An interesting building (with beautiful detail) … somehow, not what I would expect from a traditional mosque. But then, as you said, it is an eco-mosque and there are many connections with other religions.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is amazing! It really shows the efforts they have made not only to include anyone and everyone, but also to integrate the building in the country, region and area. It is truly admirable, and every little detail seems really well thought out!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. I have a hard time with the treatment of women in some interpretations of Islam, but I really admire the ways this mosque has made itself cross-cultural and cross-religious (for lack of a better term), as well as its respect of the environment.

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Hard to believe this was once a bowling alley… What a beautiful use of the space. I love the “tree” columns and the fact that it was designed to also serve as a community center, unusual for a religious building.

    Liked by 1 person

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