A small onsite museum documents the history of the mosque with miniature models, some original pillars and beautiful elaborately carved teak doors along with other architectural elements. Also on display are large drums used for the call to prayer and huge Ming Dynasty jars in the past filled with water to perform ablutions as well as some hand inscribed Korans. All labels are in Indonesian, but the artefacts themselves are still interesting to view.
Behind the museum, to the side of the mosque a graveyard that includes tombs of the Sultan of Demak is the main reason, not just for pilgrims, but for travellers to visit the mosque. This holy site is considered so sacred that some Javanese believe seven “ziarah” or pilgrimages here are equivalent to a pilgrimage to Mecca and it’s quite moving to watch the faithful chanting and meditating in front of the mausoleum.
The mosque is the only real reason the visit Demak, some 30 kilometres northeast of Semarang and unless you have a particular interest in Islam or Islamic architecture in these parts is probably not worth a standalone trip, however if you are travelling towards Jepara, it’s defiantly worth a stop on the way, along with the fascinating mosque in Kudus. Respectful dress is required—long pants and sleeves, and headscarfs for women (menstruating women are not permitted).