From Istanbul to Spain, Musement takes a look at eight of the world’s most beautiful mosques.
Arab architecture, always beautiful with intricate attention to detail, is always showcased spectacularly in mosques, the sacred temples for Islam. Here’s a look at eight of the world’s most spectacular.
1. Blue Mosque, Istanbul
Also known as “Sultan Ahmed’s Mosque,” the Blue Mosque was commissioned in 1609 by the Sultan for whom it’s named. Located just in front of the great Hagia Sophia (Hagia Sophia of Constantinople), the structure showcases both Ottoman and Byzantine architecture. A must-see when in Istanbul, it’s easy to admire from afar as it’s one of the five mosques in Turkey with six minarets.
2. Hagia Sophia, Istanbul
Constructed between 532-537, for centuries the Hagia Sophia (Greek for “Holy Wisdom”) was an example of Byzantine splendor, thanks to its particular architecture and unparalleled technique. After the fall of the Byzantine Empire and the Ottoman invasion, the impressive Greek Orthodox Cathedral was transformed into a mosque. A stroll around the inside recalls the city’s glorious past as an empire that served as a cultural bridge between Asia and Europe.
3. Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi
Built between 1996 and 2007, Sheikh Zayed Mosque was commissioned in honor of the first president of the United Arab Emirates, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The Abu Dhabi landmark open to people of all faiths. If you’re not staying the Emirati capital, it’s easily reachable as a day trip from Dubai. The country’s largest mosque, its highest point reaches 262 feet. The interior was designed with the utmost care and this is evident in the craftsmanship which implements thousands of precious and semi-precious stones.
4. Imam Khomeini Mosque, Isfahán
Also known as the Royal Mosque or the Imam’s Mosque, the 17th-century structure in Iran is considered the masterpiece of Persian architecture. Located beside Naghsh-i Jahan square, which precedes its entrance, is an enclave full of beauty. The interior tiles are spectacular.
5. Mosque of Cordoba, Cordoba
The most important monument in the beautiful Spanish town of Cordoba, the city’s mosque is an icon of Andalusian architecture and an example of the splendor of Hispano-Muslim Umayyad art. It is one of the most visited places in southern Spain and although today it no longer professes the Muslim faith, its imposing architecture is still a window to the past as it was considered the jewel of the Caliphate. Its magnificent doors, domes and columns make you feel that you have traveled back in time.
6. Shah Jahan Mosque, Thatta
Located in Pakistan, this picturesque mosque is one of the country’s most visited sites. Constructed in the mid-seventeenth century, the structure is an important example of Mughal architecture and lacks the typical minarets and its geometric forms. It’s known for its acoustics —from one end of the dome it is possible to hear a person speaking on the other side— and its tile work considered the most elaborate in South Asia.
7. Kota Kinabalu Mosque, Kota Kinabalu
Located in the middle of a lake, this mosque stands in a well-maintained park in the city of Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia. The right angles and the purity of its lines make it an interesting enclave for all kinds of visitors, and it stands out from a distance with the water reflecting its blue and white shades.
8. Jumeirah Mosque, Dubai
This majestic mosque located in the center of Dubai is adorned with beautiful mosaics, luxurious carpets, and an aura of respect and devotion that visitors detect at first sight. Its architecture is impressive, both inside and outside. Non-Muslims may visit so long as they adhere to the dress code and other requirements that are explained at the entrance.