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Now the part 2 of this series, we bring you 28 more of the most amazing mosques our planet has to offer in all their spectacular architectural glory. Be sure to check out Part 1 of this series if you haven’t already.
Mosque of the Prophet
The Mosque of the Prophet — also Prophet’s Mosque or Masjid an-Nabawi — is the second holiest mosque in Islam and the final resting place of Muhammad, located in what was traditionally the center of Medina. The basic plan of the building has been adopted in the design of other mosques throughout the world.
Its most important feature is the green dome over the center of the mosque, known as the Dome of the Prophet, where the tomb of Muhammad is located. It’s not known exactly when the green dome was built, but manuscripts dating to the early 12th century describe the dome. Early Muslim leaders Abu Bakr and Umar are also buried in the mosque.
The heart of the mosque houses a very special but small area named ar-Rawdah an-Nabawiyah, which extends from Muhammad’s tomb to his pulpit. Entrance into ar-Rawdah is not always possible as the tiny area can accommodate only a few hundred people, with 2 small gateways manned by Saudi police officers. The original pulpit was much smaller than the current marble one that was constructed by the Ottomans, and made of palm tree wood.
The original mosque was built by Muhammad and the edifice was initially his house. He later built a mosque on the grounds which was an open-air building. Subsequent Islamic rulers greatly expanded and decorated it.
The original mosque was not very large, and today the original exists only as a small portion of the larger mosque. From 1925, the mosque was gradually expanded until 1955 when extensive renovations were carried out. The latest renovations took place under King Fahd and have greatly increased its size, allowing it to hold a large number of people.
Its newer and older sections of the mosque are quite distinct — the older section has many colorful decorations and numerous small pillars. It’s also completely air conditioned and decorated with marble.
The Grand Mosque of Damascus — also known as the Ummayad Mosque — is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world, located in one of the holiest sites in the old city of Damascus. It was considered one of the marvels of the world, due to being one of the largest of its time. The exterior walls were based on the walls of the temple of Jupiter and measure about 330 by 520 feet (100 by 157.5 meters).
The interior of the mosque is mainly plain white, but contains some fragmentary mosaics and other geometric patterns, and thought to have once had the largest golden mosaic in the world, at over 4,375 square yards (4,000 sq. meters). In 1893 a fire damaged the mosque extensively and many mosaics were lost, although some have since been restored.
The prayer hall consists of three aisles, supported by columns in the Corinthian order. The minaret in the southeast corner is called the “Minaret of Jesus,” as many Muslims believe that it’s here that Jesus will appear at the End of the World.
The mosque holds a shrine which is said to contain the head of the prophet John the Baptist which was supposedly found during the excavations for the construction of the mosque. Also of significance are the place where the head of Husayn (the grandson of Muhammad) was kept on display by Yazīd I, and the tomb of Saladin, which stands in a small garden adjoining the north wall of the mosque.
Where the mosque now stands was once a temple of Hadad in the Aramaean era. The site was later temple of Jupiter in the Roman era, then a Christian church dedicated to John the Baptist in the Byzantine era.
The Umayyad Mosque was the destination of the ladies and children of the family of Muhammad made to walk there from Iraq following the battle of Karbala, and imprisoned for 60 days.
In the 14th century, one of the most famous Islamic astronomers, Ibn al-Shatir, worked as religious timekeeper at the Umayyad Mosque.
The — Blue Mosque — also known as the Gyok Jami — was the largest of 8 functioning mosques in Yerevan, Armenia, when the city was captured by Russia in 1827. It was built in 1766 during the reign of Hussein Ali, and therefore sometimes referred to as “the mosque of Hussein Ali.”
The complex was all organized around a courtyard, consisting of a prayer room, library, and a medresse with 28 cells, with the overall complex occupying 7,660 square yards (7,000 sq. meters) of land. It originally had four 79-foot (24-metre) high minarets, but 3 of them were later demolished.
Due to the secularist policies of the Soviet government, religious services at the Blue Mosque were stopped, and in 1931 the building was turned into the Museum of the City of Yerevan.
In the late 1990’s, the mosque underwent a heavy and aesthetically damaging restoration. It’s the last remaining mosque in Armenia — the Islamic Republic of Iran swooped in to save the mosque and seems to be perpetually in the process of restoring it. It’s surrounded by Soviet area apartment blocks in downtown Yerevan.
Pul-e Khishti Mosque is the largest in Kabul, Afghanistan, located in the old city, quickly identified by its large blue dome. The mosque was erected in the late 18th Century, but was largely rebuilt under Zahir Shah in the late 1960’s. It was damaged during recent fighting in the area, but is one of the few buildings in the region which has had restoration work done on it.
The Ketchaoua Mosque — also known as Djamaa Ketchaoua — is noted for its blend of Moorish and Byzantine architecture, situated at the foot of the Casbah in Algiers. It was originally built as a mosque in 1612 but in 1845 during the occupation it became the Cathedral of St Philippe until 1962.
The main entrance, reached by a flight of 23 steps, is ornamented with a portico supported by 4 black-veined marble columns, and the roof of the nave is of Moorish plaster work. It rests on a series of arcades supported by white marble columns, several which belonged to the original mosque. In one of the chapels was a tomb containing the bones of San Geronimo.Baitul Mukarram
Baitul Mukarram (Dhaka) is the national mosque of Bangladesh, located at the heart of Dhaka, its capital, and resembles the famous Ka’abah at Mecca which makes it unique for the country.
The National Mosque of Bangladesh has several modern architectural features, and at the same time it preserves the traditional principles of mosques architecture. Founded in the 1960’s, it was designed by architect T Abdul Hussain Thariani.
Baitunnur — also Baitun Nur or Baitun Noor — is known for being the largest mosque in Canada in the Castleridge community of Calgary, Alberta, at 48,438 square feet (4, 500 sq. meters) in size.
A 97-foot (29.6 meter) tall steel-capped minaret tower and large steel dome are the mosque’s most noticeably externally visible features. Around the exterior of the building are written 99 Arabic words in the Qur’an. In the prayer hall of the mosque hangs an 880 pound (400 kilo) chandelier that cost $50,000. The complex also includes classrooms, office space, a children’s area, a kitchen and a community centre.
Sultan Hassan Mosque
The Sultan Hassan Mosque is considered stylistically the most compact and unified of all Cairo monuments and one of the masterpieces of Mamluk architecture, featured on the Egyptian one-hundred pound note.
The facade is about 250 feet (76 meters) long and 120 feet (36) meters high. The cornices, entrance portal, burial chamber, and the monumental staircase are particularly noteworthy. Verses from the Quran in elegant Kufic and Thuluth scripts adorn the inner walls.
It was commissioned by Sultan Hassan bin Al-Nasir Muhammad bin Qalawun in 1356 AD and completed 7 years later in 1363 AD. One of the minarets collapsed during construction killing 300 people. The state was able to fund the massive structure through the properties that were left behind by the victims of the Black Death. The Sultan was assassinated before the mosque was completed and his body was never recovered, so the magnificent burial chamber that was intended for him holds his 2 sons instead.
The Babri Mosque — or Mosque of Babur — was one of the largest mosques in Uttar Pradesh, a state in India. Although there were several older mosques in the city of Ayodhya, it became the largest, due to the importance of the disputed site.
It was a large imposing structure with 3 domes, surrounded by 2 high walls running parallel to each other and enclosing a large central courtyard with a deep well, which was known for its cold and sweet water. On the high entrance of the domed structure are fixed 2 stone tablets which bear 2 inscriptions in Persian declaring that this structure was built by Mir Baqi on the orders of Babur.
The walls of the Babri Mosque are made of coarse-grained whitish sandstone blocks, while the domes are made of thin and small burnt bricks. Both these structural features are plastered with thick chunam paste mixed with coarse sand.
The Central Courtyard was surrounded by lavishly curved columns superimposed to increase the height of the ceilings with craftsmanship of vegetal scrolls and lotus patterns.
Legend of the Babri Mosque’s miraculous deep well in the central courtyard with its reported medicinal properties have been featured in news reports such as the BBC in December 1989 and various newspapers. Thousands came during the annual Ram festival to drink from the water well in the Babri Courtyard — it was believed drinking water from this well could cure a range of illnesses, and many women brought their newborn babies to drink from the reputedly curative water.
The 125 foot (40 meter) deep artesian well was situated in the southeastern Courtyard of the large rectangular courtyard of the Babri Mosque and drew water from a considerable distance below the water table from a reservoir trapped in a bed of shale sand and gravel. The water contained almost no sodium explaining its reputation that the water was ‘sweet.’ There was a small Hindu shrine built in 1890 joining the well with a statute of Lord Rama.
Constructed by order of the first Mughal emperor of India, Babur, in Ayodhya in the 16th century, the mosque was called Masjid-i Janmasthan before the 1940’s, and stood on Ramkot (”Rama’s fort”) Hill.
It was destroyed by Hindu nationalists, 150,000 strong, during a ceremony on December 6, 1992. More than 2,000 people were killed in the ensuing riots following the demolition, and more riots broke out in many major Indian cities.
Mesjid Raya Baiturrahman
Mesjid Raya Baiturrahman is a large mosque located in the center of the city of Banda Aceh, Aceh province, Indonesia. It’s of great symbolic significance to the Acehnese people, especially since it survived the devastating 2004 tsunami intact that destroyed much of the rest of the city.
The design of the mosque combines colonial and Moghul Indian influences, but few traditionally Acehenese features, though it has come to represent the city of Banda Aceh and the cultural uniqueness of the Acehenese. At night, the huge white structure and its black domes are illuminated.
It was built around 12th century but burnt down at the beginning of the Aceh War, then rebuilt taking its present shape after a number of renovations and expansions. The magnificent structure was designed by an Italian architect and built by the Dutch colonial administration as a token of reconciliation following their destruction of the mosque during the Aceh wars. Construction began in 1879 and was completed in 1881.
Masjid Agung Demak
Masjid Agung Demak — or the Great Demak Mosque — is one of the oldest in Indonesia, located in the center town of Demak, Central Java Indonesia. It’s believed to be built by the Wali Songo (the nine pious religious leaders) during the first Demak Sultanate ruler, Raden Patah during the 15th century.
It’s the classic example of a traditional Javanese mosque with a tiered roof supported by 4 enormous teak pillars. The main entrance consists of 2 doors carved with motifs of plants, vases, crowns and an animal head with an open wide-toothed mouth. It’s said that picture depicts the manifested thunder caught by Ki Ageng Selo, hence their name “Lawang Bledheg” — the doors of thunder.
The carvings at Lawang Bledheg are also interpreted according to chronogram based on lunar calculation as “Naga mulat salira wani” which means Saka Year 1388 or A.D. 1466 as the year in which Masjid Agung Demak existed.
The front wall is inset with 66 porcelain tiles of exquisite blue and white, believed to derive from Champa in modern-day Vietnam, a kingdom with which Demak’s former rival Majapahit had extensive trade contacts. According to some reports, these tiles were stolen from the palace of the Sultan of Majapahit and later added to the mosque.
Masjid Agung Demak has many historical remainders and unique things, such as Saka Tatal, Maksurah, Dhampar Kencana/pulpit, Saka Majapahit, and also graves of the sultans of Demak and a museum.
Husayn ibn ‘Ali
The Shrine of Husayn ibn ‘Ali is a holy site of Shi‘ah Islam in the city of Karbala, Iraq, standing on the site of the grave of Husayn ibn ‘Ali, the second grandson of Muhammad, near the place where he was killed during the Battle of Karbala in 680 C.E.
The boundary wall of the shrine surrounds wooden gates covered with glass decorations. Through the gates is a courtyard separated into small rooms or precincts called “Iwans.” The grave of Husayn is enclosed within a cage-like structure, found directly beneath the golden dome in the middle of the precinct.
His grave is called the “Rawda” or “Garden” and it has several entry gates, the most famous one named “Al-Qibla” or “Bab al-Dhahab”. When entered, one can see the tomb of Habib ibn Madhahir al-Asadi to the right hand side, who was a friend and companion of Husayn since their childhood.
Also within the shrine are the 72 martyrs of Karbala buried in a mass grave covered with soil to the ground level which sits at the foot of Husayn’s grave. Beside Husayn’s grave are the graves of his two sons, ‘Ali al-Akbar and ‘Ali al-Asghar.
The Sunni Umayyad and Abbasid caliphs prevented construction of the shrines and discouraged pilgrimage to the sites. The tomb and its annexes were destroyed by Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil in 850-851 and Shi’a pilgrimage was prohibited, but shrines in Karbala and Najaf were built by the Buwayhid emir ‘Adud al-Daula in 979-80.
The Al-‘Abbas Mosque — or Masjid al-‘Abbas — is the mausoleum of ‘Abbas ibn ‘Ali, located across from the Imam Husayn Mosque in Karbala, Iraq. ‘Abbas was the brother Hasan and Husayn as well as being the flag-bearer for Husayn in the Battle of Karbala.
Majority of the current design was done by Persian and Central Asian architects. The central pear shaped dome is an ornately decorated structure with 2 tall minarets on its sides. The tomb is covered with pure gold and surrounded by a trellis of silver, along with Iranian carpets rolled out on the floors.
Emperors and kings of various dynasties have offered valuable gifts and gems to the shrine. In the year 1032 AH, the King Tahmaseb ordered the decoration of the grave’s dome, and also built a window around the grave and organized the precinct.
Environmental effects have caused the Euphrates River to change direction. Nearly 1,400 years after the Battle of Karbala, the river is flowing across the grave of ‘Abbas, and circling around it.
Jamkaran, Iran is the site of the Jamkaran Mosque, located 4 miles (6 kilometers) east of Qom and has long been a sacred place, since at least 984 C.E. Local belief has it that the Twelfth Imam (Muhammad al-Mahdi) once appeared at Jamkaran, which has been compared to that of Catholics who believe that the Virgin Mary appeared to 3 shepherd children in Fatima, Portugal in 1917.
In the rear of the mosque is a “well of requests.” Pilgrims tie small strings in a knot around the grids covering the holy well, and each morning custodians cut off the strings from the previous day. Every Tuesday evening the mosque kitchen provides a free meal to thousands of poor people.
Blue Mosque, Tabriz
The Blue Mosque — or Masjed-e Kabud — is a famous historic mosque in Tabriz, Iran, built in 1465 upon the order of Jahan Shah, the ruler of Kara Koyunlu, which made Tabriz the capital of his Kingdom.
The original complex covered other complexes including a school, public bath, and library, all of which disappeared during an earthquake in 1779, and only parts of the mosque have survived including the entrance iwan. Reconstruction began in 1973, but the tiling is still is incomplete.
Jahan Shah was killed and buried in the mosque. The mausoleum was built in the southern section of the mosque and is entirely covered with high marble slabs on which verses from Quran are engraved in Thulth script on a background of fine arabesques. The roof of the mausoleum and the main dome chamber of the mosque collapsed during an earthquake in 1779 AD and were rebuilt in 1973 thanks to the efforts of Reza Memaran Benam — a famous architect from Tabriz.
The stupendous scripts and exquisite patterns of these facades were created by the famous calligraphist Nematollah-ben-Mohammad-ol-Bavab. The walls had been covered with mosaic tiles inside & outside.
Hassan Bek Mosque
The Hassan Bek Mosque — also known as the Hasan Bey — is considered to be one of the most well-known mosques located between Neve Tzedek and the Mediterranean Sea, on the fast road to Jaffa. It’s also known to have a reputation to be a site of much eventful controversy.
The unique Ottoman style architecture it displays contrasts sharply with the contemporary modern high-rises that are situated nearby, employing a white limestone instead the more common stone of the area being a yellow-brown limestone. The walls refined by narrow engaged piers that divide the wide façades into smaller sections are perforated with intricately decorated and colorfully glazed windows.
Its towering slender minaret contrasts with the square prayer hall and it has a proportionally low flat concrete roof and shallow dome projecting from its central bay. A very low tower can be seen attached to the opposite side of the mosque.
The Hassan Bek Mosque built in 1916, by Jaffa’s Turkish-Arab governor of the same name, was part of Manshiye, Jaffa’s northernmost neighborhood which spread northwards along the Mediterranean seashore.
By some accounts, Governor Hassan Bek used building materials confiscated from construction sites in Tel-Aviv for the construction of the mosque, claiming that they were needed for the Ottoman war effort in World War I. Though he had powers of requisition under Ottoman law, it was resented by Tel Avivians as an act of pilfering and robbery.
The Zahir Mosque is Kedah’s state mosque, located in the heart of Alor Star, the state capital of Kedah, Malaysia. It’s one of the grandest and oldest mosques in Malaysia, voted the top 10 most beautiful mosques in the world. Built in 1912, it occupies an area of about 124,412 square feet (11,558.3 sq. meters).
It’s enhanced with 5 prime large domes and its center hall measures 62 by 62 square feet (5.8 sq. meters), surrounded by verandahs of 8 feet (2.4 meters) wide with 4 mezzanine areas. Each mezzanine area is roofed by a dome.
The site of this mosque was the cemetery of Kedah warriors who had died while defending Kedah from the Siamese in 1821. The architecture of the mosque was inspired by the AZIZI Mosque in Langkat town in north Sumatra.
Masjid Jamek Mosque
Masjid Jamek is one of the oldest mosques in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, located at the confluence of the Klang and Gombak River, built on the first Malay burial ground in the city. It officially opened in 1909, two years after construction was completed.
Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan
The Federal Territory Mosque — or Masjid Wilayah Persekutuan — is a major mosque in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. It’s located near MATRADE complex and the Federal Governmental Complex off Jalan Duta, situated on 5 hectares. Constructed between 1998 and 2000, it can hold 17,000.
Its design is a blend of Ottoman and Malay architectural styles, heavily influenced by the Blue Mosque in Istanbul, Turkey, with 22 domes made from fiberglass to make it durable and light.
Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque
The Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz Shah Mosque is Malaysia’s largest mosque, located in Shah Alam, and the second biggest mosque in Southeast Asia after Istiqlal Mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia. On clear day it can be seen from certain vantage points in Kuala Lumpur, and can accommodate up to 16,000.
Nicknamed as ‘Blue Mosque’ for its blue aluminum dome covered in a rosette of verses from the Qur’anIts, its architecture is a combination of Malay and Modernist style. The main dome is one of the largest in the world, measuring 170 feet in diameter and 350 feet in height from the ground. The 4 minarets are the 2nd tallest in the world at 460 feet. In its early years, the mosque was also listed in the Guinness World Records as having the tallest minaret in the world, a title it lost to the King Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca.
It was commissioned by Sultan Salahuddin Abdul Aziz when he declared Shah Alam as the new capital of Selangor on February 14, 1974. Construction began in 1982 and finished in 1988.
The Putra Mosque — or Masjid Putra — is the principal mosque of Putrajaya, Malaysia. It’s located next to Perdana Putra which houses the Malaysian Prime Minister’s office and man-made Putrajaya Lake. Construction began in 1997 and was completed 2 years later.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque
Sultan Qaboos directed that his country of Oman should have a Grand Mosque. Built from 300,000 tons of Indian sandstone, construction commenced in 1995 in Baushar which took more than 6 years to complete, and holds up to 20,000.
The main prayer hall is 243 feet square (74.4 by 74.4 meters) with a central dome rising to a height of 164 feet (50 meters above) the floor. The dome and the 295-foot (90-meter) main minaret and 4 flanking minarets are the mosque’s chief visual features.
It used to boast the title for the world’s largest hand-woven carpet which currently belongs to the Sheikh Zayed — with 1,700 million knots, weighs 21 tons, measures over 230 by 200 feet (70 by 60 meters) all in a single piece, and took 4 years to create. 28 colors in varying shades were used, the majority obtained from traditional vegetable dyes.
The Mosque is built on a site occupying 455,280 square yards (416,000 sq. meters) and the complex extends to cover an area of 43,780 square yards (40,000 sq. meters).
The Badshahi Mosque — or Emperor’s Mosque — is one of the best known landmarks in Lahore, Pakistan, and a major tourist attraction epitomizing the beauty and grandeur of the Mughal era. It’s the 2nd largest mosque in Pakistan holding over 50,000 people, built in 1673 by the Mughal Emperor Aurangzeb, and was the largest mosque in the world for a long time.
Its architecture and design is closely related to the Jama Masjid in Delhi, India. The interior has rich embellishment in stucco tracery and paneling with a fresco touch, all in bold relief, as well as marble inlay. The exterior is decorated with stone carving and marble inlay on red sandstone. The embellishment has Indo-Greek, Central Asian and Indian architectural influence both in technique and motifs.
The skyline is furnished by beautiful ornamental merlons inlaid with marble lining. The walls were built with small kiln-burnt bricks laid in kankar, and steps leading to the prayer chamber and its plinth are in variegated marble.
The prayer chamber is very deep and divided into 7 compartments by rich engraved arches carried on very heavy piers. Out of the 7 compartments, 3 double domes finished in marble have superb curvature, whilst the rest have curvilinear domes with a central rib in their interior and flat roof above.
The original floor of the prayer chamber was in cut and dressed bricks with marble and Sang-i-Abri lining which was replaced by marble during the last repairs.
Badshahi Mosque was badly damaged and misused during Sikh Rule. During the reign of Maharaja Ranjit Singh, the mosque was used as a stable for the army’s horses and they also stole jewels from the mosque such as marble, rubies, gold, and other valuables.
British returned it to the Muslims as a good will gesture, but in terrible condition. From 1852 onwards, piecemeal repairs were carried out and extensive repairs were done from 1939 to 1960. The mosque was built under the patronage of Aurangzeb Alamgir — construction took about 2 years from May 1671 to April 1673.
Mosque of Omar
The Mosque of Omar is the oldest and only mosque in the city of Bethlehem, located in Manger Square near the Church of the Nativity, named after Omar (Umar) ibn al-Khattab. Having conquered Jerusalem, Omar had traveled to Bethlehem in 637 AD to issue a law that would guarantee respect for the shrine and safety for Christians and clergy.
Entrance to the Mosque of Omar in Market of Jerusalem’s old city Christian Quarter.
The mosque was built in 1860, but did not experience renovation until 1955. Before the advent of light bulbs, it was common for Muslims and Christians in Bethlehem to offer olive oil to light up the surroundings of the mosque.
Rustem Paca Mosque
Very little is known about the Rustem Paca Mosque, other than the fact that it was built by Omar Sinan for the son-in-law of Suleymaniye in Istanbul, Turkey. It’s remarkable for the beautiful Iznik tiles which decorate both the interior and exterior.
Interior of the Rustem Paca mosque. Photo Jefield
Rustem Paca mosque. Photo Jefield
Rustem Paca mosque. Photo Jefield
Rustem Paca mosque. Photo Jefield
Rustem Paca mosque. Photo Jefield
Great Mosque of Gaza
The Great Mosque of Gaza — or Great Omari Mosque — is the largest and one of the oldest mosques in the Gaza Strip, located in downtown Gaza (the Old City), with an area of 4,485 square yards (4,100 sq. meters).
It’s well-known for its Mamluke-style minaret, which is square in it’s lower-half and octagonal in its upper-half, made of solid stone to the upper-hanging balcony and its pinnacle is mostly woodwork and tiles. It has a simple cupola springing from an octagonal stone drum.
The mosque forms a large courtyard surrounded by rounded arches. When the building was transformed into a mosque from a cathedral, most of the previous Crusader construction was completely replaced, but the mosque’s western door and columns within the compound still retain their Italian Gothic style.
Ulugh Beg Madrassa
Ulugh Beg Madrassa in Samarkand, Uzbekistan, was finished in 1420 under Ulugh Beg himself, and contains mosaics with astronomical themes. About 100 students were taught the sciences, astronomy, and philosophy in addition to theology.
Jami Ul Alfar Mosque
The Jami Ul Alfar mosque in pettah area is one of the oldest mosques in Colombo — the largest city and former administrative capital of Sri Lanka.
Larabanga in north-western Ghana is well-known for its mud-built whitewashed Sahelian mosque, reputed to be Ghana’s oldest mosque, said to date from 1421 but the exact date is unknown, and houses a copy of the Qur’an almost as old.
Larabanga mosque. Photo Stig Nygard
Larabanga mosque. Photo Stig Nygard
The foundations of the mosque are said to have been started by Allah, and the walls are reputed to be partly Allah’s work as every morning, the workers found the walls higher than they had built.