With thousands of mosques and shrines spread throughout the county, a visit to the Islamic Republic of Iran isn’t complete without visiting at least some of the mosques the country is rich. Famed for dazzling interior designs, outstanding tile-work and often referred to as architectural masterpieces; a visit to mosque and shrines should be included in any itinerary. To help you decide where to go we’ve listed some of the most beautiful, unique and important mosques that are certainly worth a visit.
Referred to as the ‘Pink mosque’ amongst travellers, is one of the mosques famed for its amazing architecture. And is an absolute must visit in Iran. Uniquely designed to catch the morning sun through the stained glass windows. Projecting bright colours and shapes into the prayer room. A phenomenon that will leave most –if not all- visitors in awe. The moving spectacle of colours and lights continues until every inch of the walls, ceilings, columns, arches, and visitors are covered in colour. Go in the early morning, during sunrise to see the spectacle unfolding in front of your own eyes.
Constructed, reconstructed and renovated from the year 711 until today, the Jameh Mosque is one of the oldest still standing mosques in Iran. Also known as the Grand Mosque of Isfahan, this Unesco listed structure is referred to as one of the masterpieces in Islamic architecture. Famed for its calligraphy, open Iwans, the impressive 52-meter high dome. As well as splendid design, tile, and brickwork that is a feast for the eyes. A visit can easily take up hours if you’re into details. Be sure to check out the bottom view of the main domes interior. It will surely leave you dazzling!
Also located on the Naqsh-e Jahan Square this notably smaller mosque on a stone throws distance from the Imam Mosque is not lesser worth a visit. Build from 1603 till 1619, it was the first of the four monuments build on the square. Contrary to the Imam Mosque, the Sheikh Lotfollah mosque was built for the private use of the royal court. And was equipped with an underground passage to the Ali Qapu palace, so that the harem of the sheik visit the mosque unnoticed. Although the architecture is relatively simple, both the interior and exterior design are exquisite, complex and overwhelming in detail. Making a visit to the Sheikh Lotfollah mosque awe-inspiring and possibly one of the most memorable.
Another excellent example of fine Islamic architecture. Featuring the highest minarets in Iran! Gaze at the minarets and the exceptionally tall Iwan. Stroll around the lengthy, arcaded courtyard and admire the complex geometric design of the turquoise and white coloured dome. The prayer hall inside the mosque is tiled with dazzling mosaics that surely add to a magnificent experience. Build between 1324 and 1365, in a combination of both Azerbaijani style and Persian architecture the Jameh Mosque of Yazd is one of the most remarkable buildings of the 14th century. And shouldn’t be missed when you visit Iran.
Also located in Yazd and similar iconic to the city is the Amir Chakmaq complex. More than a mosque the place is recognized for the outstanding three-story arched alcoves, that are in perfect symmetry to each other. As well as the large Tekyeh; an area serving as a prominent place for Shi’i ceremonies such as the mourning of Muharram. Completed in 1438 to the orders of the governor of Yazd of that time, the complex also contains a 600-year-old bathhouse and a cold water reservoir. Enjoy this architectural masterpiece during sunset, when the sunlight illuminates the arches. Or visit after twilight, when artificial orange light lights-up the alcoves in a spectacular and memorable way.
Often described as ‘The heart of Shia Islam’ the Imam Reza Shrine is unmissable in terms of religious places. Over twelve million Shia’s followers come to visit the mausoleum of Imam Reza, the eighth Imam in Shia Islam each year. Making it the largest site for religious pilgrimage in Iran. Claimed to be the largest mosque by the surface, entering the complex feels as if entering another world. Gaze at the massive structure, the characteristic golden dome and stroll down the seven courtyards. Observe religious rituals and ceremonies and learn about the importance of this holy site. Besides the mosque and mausoleum, the complex contains a museum, library, university for Islamic Sciences, a dining hall for pilgrims and even a cemetery.
Build between the 16-18th century to honor the Islamic Sufi leader Sheikh Safi al-Din. This UNESCO’s recognized mausoleum is still a place for spiritual retreat in Sufi mysticism. Cylindrical brick towers and stunning domes with blue, white, yellow and black brick mosaics characterize the exterior. As well as colourful glazed tilework with rich inscriptions and floral design. Dazzling interior, complete with honeycomb design and numerous details in gold, red and blue add lots of splendor and a mesmerizing wow-factor to the sanctuary. In addition to the appealing design, the architecture also has spiritual meaning; seven segments mirror the seven stages of Sufi mysticism. And eight gates the complex is rich represent the eight attitudes of Sufism. Besides the prayer room be sure to visit the Porcelain Room. Its octagonal shape and numerous niches in the shape of vases, plates, instruments, and bowls are again mesmerizing.
Similar to Mashad, Qom is one of the most Islamic cities in Iran and is the largest center for Shia scholars in the world. Considered to be holy in Shia Islam a city is an important place for pilgrimage. Thousands of people visit the city every year to pray and ask for the blessing at the Fatima Masumeh Shrine. Being the sister of Imam Reza and the daughter of Imam Musa al-Kadhim, the seventh Imam in Shia Islam, the lady is a considered saint for her holiness and wisdom. Her shrine, decorated with delicate blue tilework, infinite glass mosaic, and a characteristic golden dome is one of the most significant ones in Iran. Visiting her shrine is said to help you gain admittance to heaven.
Did you visit any of these mosques? Or do you have other suggestions? Be sure to share them through the comment section below.