Mosques have existed for more than a millennia as places of worship for Muslims all around the world. Over the past thousand years, many boast distinct styles and represent fusions in architectural styles as the result of the mergence of various cultures. To this day, the beauty and rich history of these sacred places continues to inspire visitors — here are ten stunning mosques from all over the world that will take your breath away.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Robert Byron once said that the city of Isfahan in Iran is beautiful enough to rival Athens and Rome, yet due to its geographical distance from the Western world, it is seldom explored. Home to the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque built between 1602 and 1619 during the reign of Shah Abbas I, the structure is an architectural masterpiece and a multi-functional space that is also home to royal caravanserai, baths, a royal mint and a hospital. The dome is adorned with stunning cream-colored tiles that transform throughout the day into a pink shade with the setting of the sun.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Ghal-e-Tabarok, Isfahan, Iran
Dating back to the 14th century, the Aqsunqur Mosque stands proudly in the Egyptiancapital. Reflecting a clear Ottoman style, complete with typical Iznik tiles in the shapes of cypress trees and tulips in vases, the mosque also contains the mausoleums of its founder, Shams El-Din Aqsunqur, and his numerous sons. Whilst the general layout of the mosque consists of a large open courtyard enclosed by four arcades, the interior is rather irregular for being comprised of a series of cross vaults that hold up its flat wooden ceiling.
Aqsunqur Mosque, Cairo, El-Darb El-Ahmar, Egypt
Al Haram Mosque
Located in the city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia, the Sacred Mosque is perhaps one of the most prominent mosques in Islam as it is named by the Qur’an as the first house built for humanity’s worship of Allah. Not only is Al Haram the largest mosque in the world, but it is also its greatest and considered to be the holiest. Covering a colossal 400,800 square meters, it can accommodate up to four million people during Hajj, the annual Islamic pilgrimage and a mandatory religious duty for Muslims. The mosque is also home to the Black Stone, incorporated into the Kaaba’s wall by the prophet Muhammad before his first revelation.
Al Haram, Mecca, Saudi Arabia
Al Aqsa Mosque
Situated in the UNESCO-listed Old City of Jerusalem, the Al Aqsa Mosque is a stunning structure that has been rebuilt several times throughout history due to repeatedly being hit by earthquakes. To this day, it remains as the third holiest site in Islam for the belief that Muhammad was transported here from the Al Haram mosque in Mecca during the Night Journey, and then onto heaven. Although technically under Israeli control, every Friday, the building overflows with thousands of Muslim worshippers who make their prayers outside in the courtyards of the Noble Sanctuary.
Al Aqsa Mosque, Jerusalem, Israel
Hassan II Mosque
The Hassan II Mosque is the largest in Morocco and the seventh largest in the world, occupying the Atlantic shoreline in Casablanca since 1993. Its minarets are the tallest in the world, at an epic 210 meters and are topped by a laser that shines a light towards Mecca. Inside, the walls are handcrafted out of smooth marble, and the glass floor allows visitors to gather a glimpse of the seabed in the main hall. To this day, it is the only such building in Morocco that non-Muslims can enter.
Hassan II Mosque, Sour Jdid, Casablanca, Morocco
Making up an essential part of Istanbul’s skyline, the Blue Mosqueboasts six needle-like minarets and is a must see for anyone visiting the majestic city. Built under the reign of the Ottoman ruler Ahmed I between 1609 and 1616 in a series of domes and half-domes, like many other mosques, it also comprises the tomb of its founder, a madrasa and a hospice. Alongside the beautifully arranged cascade of domes spilling down from the grand central dome, it is the ceiling gleaming with 20,000 famous blue Iznik tiles featuring flowers, trees and abstract patterns that make this mosque really breathtaking.
Blue Mosque, At Meydanı No:7, İstanbul, Turkey
The Ubudiah Mosque in the royal town of Kuala Kangsar is considered to be the most beautiful place of worship in Malaysia. It is comprised of four minarets and a golden dome, designed by British architect Arthur Benison Huback at the command of Sultan Idris Mushidul Azam Shah who vowed to build a mosque of great beauty as thanksgiving for a recovery from an illness. Today, it is a symbol of great pride to all Muslims in the state of Perak.
Ubudiah Mosque, 33000 Kuala Kangsar, Perak, Malaysia
Wazir Khan Mosque
Located in the northern city of Lahore in Pakistan, on one of the busiest roads in the area, the Wazir Khan Mosque has been standing since the 17th century and is one of the most important landmarks in the city. Blessed with UNESCO World Heritage Status since 1993, it was built in cut bricks laid in canker lime, with red sandstone adorning the gate and transept. Both inside and out, the mosque is graced with fresco paintings and tiles, predominantly featuring colors of cobalt, cerulean blue, greens, oranges, yellows and purples. The view from the top overlooking the Kashmiri Bazaar is one of the most breathtaking vantage points in Lahore.
Wazir Khan Mosque, Shahi Guzargah, Lahore, Pakistan
Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba
Within the depths of Spain, the Cordoba Mosque is one of the finest examples of Moorish architecture and encompasses the glory of Muslim rule in the medieval period. Although the building was originally a Catholic church dating back to 600, when the Islamic world spread to Spain in the 8th century, it became one of 300 European mosques built to rival the splendors of Constantinople and Damascus. Divided into Muslim and Christian halves in 711, it was converted back into a Roman Catholic Church in the 16th century. To this day, Spanish Muslims continue to lobby to the church to allow them to pray in the cathedral, a plea that has been rejected by the Vatican on numerous occasions.
Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, Calle del Cardenal Herrero, Córdoba, Spain
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
UAE’s capital is home to a brilliant white mosque that boasts the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet, created by over 12,000 artisans, and a 12-tonne crystal chandelier. Located in the opulent Abu Dhabi, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a pure reflection of the religious tastes of the royal family. Numbering a total of 82 domes and over 1,000 columns, the mosque’s beauty is also amplified by the reflective pools surrounding it. As night falls, the striking white and gold hues are further transformed by a lighting system that reflects the phases of the moon.
source: the culture trip