To visit a historical mosque, madrasah, palace or garden in Iran is to be dazzled by their construction of resplendent blue and other colored tiles, and the profusion of arabesque designs and Islamic calligraphic scripts that often cover entire surfaces. Here are some stunning photographs that reveal the ceilings and high walls of some of Iran’s most sacred and beautiful monuments (note: the images are best viewed on a desktop computer).
The Shrine of Fatima Masumeh, Qom
This shrine is considered by Shia Muslims to be the second most sacred site in Iran after Mashhad. Fatima Masumeh was the sister of the eighth Imam after the Prophet Mohammed. In Shia Islam, women are often revered as saints if they are close relatives to one of the Twelver Imams.
Mausoleum of Oljaytu, Soltaniyeh
After conquering this region and converting to Islam, the Mongol general Oljaytu established a capital in the city of Soltaniyeh and constructed this massive mausoleum for himself in 1312. The turquoise dome and stylised Kufic calligraphy are similar to those found in Central Asia, particularly in Uzbekistan.
The Blue Mosque, Tabriz
The ancient city of Tabriz in northwestern Iran is home to of the splendid Blue Mosque ( Masjed-e Kabud in Farsi). The mosque, which is one of the most sacred monuments in Iran, is covered with spectacular blue tiles, from which it derives its name. It is also a showcase of Islamic designs in the form of scripts and various arabesque and geometric patterns inscribed on the tiles.
The Bag-e Fin Garden, Kashan.
The Bag-e Fin garden in Kashan, central Iran, is one of the most beautiful classical Muslim gardens to have survived through the ages. Built under the reign of Abbas I of Persia and completed in 1590, it is the archetype of a “paradise garden”, an oasis resting place in the desert with lush foliage, water flowing in channels through the orchard and richly tiled walls measuring 8m high.
The Agha Bozorg Mosque, Kashan
Situated in the center of the city of Kashan, this mosque was built in the late 18th century and served as a mosque as well as theological school (madrasah).
Shah Mosque, Isfahan
Isfahan is a city in central Iran, known for its Persian architecture. In 1587, Shah Abbas became the ruler of the Safavid Persian empire and made Isfahan his capital. He ordered the construction of numerous palaces, mosques, gardens and bazaars, bringing hundreds of Chinese artisans to Isfahan for the works. The Shah (Royal) Mosque was perhaps the greatest architectural achievement of that period. It is arguably Iran’s most beautiful mosques, with walls beautifully decorated with seven-colored tiles showcasing stunning mosaic patterns and calligraphy.
Ali Qapu Palace, Isfahan
Ali Qapu Palace was the official residence of Persian Emperors of the Safavid dynasty (1501-1736). It was here that the Shah Abbas I used to entertain noble visitors, and foreign ambassadors. The palace occupies an area of 1,476 sq. m and consists of 52 rooms arranged on a very elaborate plan on six floors, each room decorated with stunning wall and ceiling tiles.
The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz
Known popularly as ‘the “Pink Mosque” due to the large number of pink coloured tiles used to decorate it, this mosque was built during the Qajar dynasty and completed in 1888. Although it looks like a conventional mosque from the outside, a walk through the interior will show why many call this mosque the “Mosque of colours or the “Rainbow Mosque”. It is a space where light and worship intertwine.