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Architecture History

Agha Bozorg Mosque, Kashan, Iran

Master-mi’mar Ustad Haj Sa’ban-Ali founded the Agha Bozorg Mosque (Persian: مسجد آقا بزرگ‎ Masjed-e Āghā Bozorg) in the late 18th century; it is a historical mosque in Kashan, Iran. It is renowned for its symmetrical architecture and appealing appearance. The complex is named after the Mulla-Mahdi Naraqi II theologian, identified as Aqa Buzurg, and an inscription dates the building from 1832 to 1833 (1248 AH). In the center of the city, there is a mosque and a theological school (madrasah). A homage to Islamic architecture, elements of Persian architecture are often delicately taken over by the mosque.

(Agha Bozorg Mosque, main building)

Agha Bozorgh Mosque was built for prayers, preaching, and teaching sessions conducted by Molla Mahdi Naraghi II, also known as Mulla Mohammad Naraqi, famously known by the Shah himself for his title of Āghā Bozorgh (literally meaning large or great lord). This magnificent mosque has a vibrant backyard and even an underground oasis for prayer ceremonies. Its blue and turquoise tiles, which are tactfully and beautifully arranged next to each other to form fascinating Persian geometric patterns, are undoubtedly the most eye-catching feature of this location. Another charming piece of Persian architecture can be found by tourists in the yard.

Several congregational halls, adjacent arcades, tiled minarets, large badgirs (wind towers), and an austere dome comprise the massive structure. With Quranic inscriptions and mosaics, the mud-brick walls, arches, and ceilings are also covered. A long, roughly rectangular footprint oriented northwest to southeast is filled by the house. The middle of the complex is occupied by a sunken courtyard constructed on two levels (ground floor and balcony). On the northwestern side, at the end of a high street lined with stores, is the entrance to the complex. It takes the shape of an iwan-portal, arched, domed. This portal leads from an arched aperture located directly opposite the entrance portal to a high, domed vestibule that overlooks the courtyard. Good examples of this art are the central courtyard and the lovely pool in the middle.

Mulla Ahmad Naraqi is renowned for rallying Iranian forces against the Russian invasion of northern Iran and calling the invading Russians a “jihad” or “holy war”. He was able to effectively reconquer the Iranian lands that had been taken during the offensive by the invading Russian armies. Mulla Ahmad Naraqi, his brothers, his sons, and his father, Mulla Muhammad Mahdi Naraqi, known as Muhaqqiq Naraqi, are some of the most prominent Shi’a clerics of their time, as well as some of the most famous Islamic Iranian scientists. Mulla Ahmad Naraqi and his father, Muhaqqiq Naraqi, are particularly well known and honored as the leading Islamic leaders of their time in Iran to this day.

(View of Agha Bozorg Mosque)

The mosque has been described as “the finest Islamic complex in Kashan and one of the best of the mid-19th century”. This beautiful architectural wonder is very atmospheric and wonderful throughout the day and at night, very incredible. As its courtyard is surrounded by student quarters, the interesting combination of mosque and madrassa (school) is very wonderful and well-constructed. Two archways leading to a flight of a few stairs that lead to an open roof terrace overlooking both levels of the courtyard flank this opening. There are two wide corridors on either side of these two archways (to the right and left as one enters the vestibule) that descend on-ramps and turn at right angles, leading to arched entrances at either end of the upper level of the courtyard’s northwestern facade.

The upper level of the courtyard is flanked by the above-mentioned roof terrace on the northwest side (raised by several feet above this upper level); by the façade of a monumental mosque on the southeast side; and by rows of blind niches on its two lateral sides (southwest and northeast), deep enough to sit in. This level acts as a balcony overlooking the courtyard’s sunken ground level. It consists of two wide iwans, one in front of the mihrab and the other by the entrance, noted for its symmetrical architecture. There are two minarets in the iwan in front of Mehrab with a brick dome. It was here that Ustad Ali Maryam began his architecture career as a pupil. Under the roof terrace and entrance pavilion, on the northwestern side, is a basement (sardab) consisting of a vast open space vaulted with deep arches. From this subterranean structure, flanking the entrance pavilion, wind catchers (badgir) in the form of towers rise.

There was also a religious school next to the mosque, all of which combined to create a single building. Badgir, the typical wind-catcher in Persian architecture that functioned as the building’s air-conditioner, also has this location. All these things reflect the simple lives of both the people and the Kashan rulers many years ago. The interior of the building consists of a central, octagonal chamber with a wide dome directly behind the central iwan, opening on three sides to an ambulatory surrounding it through archways on each of its eight sides. The two side arches on the facade of the main courtyard lead to the ambulatory sidearms. The outpatient’s northeastern arm opens to the small side court, while the southwestern arm opens to the shabistan, which is a rectangular space separated by twenty freestanding pillars into six aisles of five bays each. A single mihrab marks the path of prayer on the southwestern wall of the room under the southernmost bay.

In the heart of Kashan, Agha Bozorg Mosque gives tourists easy access to most of the popular tourist attractions of Kashan, Iran. This mosque is a sign of the simple lives of religious leaders and people in the past. The interesting point is that inside this mosque there are several sections that are eye-catching and appealing for taking pictures.

 

Information Sources:

  1. iranpersianland.com
  2. archnet.org
  3. apochi.com
  4. wikipedia
Categories
Architecture History

Süleymaniye Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

One of the most significant cultural heritage buildings situated on the Third Hill of Istanbul, Turkey, is the Süleymaniye Mosque (Turkish: Süleymaniye Camii, Turkish pronunciation: sylejˈmaːnije). It is the largest in the city of Istanbul and also boasts of one of the best-known panoramas in the city. It is an imperial Ottoman mosque, and Suleiman the Magnificent commissioned the mosque, designed by the imperial architect Mimar Sinan (the greatest architect of the Ottoman Empire). An inscription shows the date of the foundation as 1550 and the date of the inauguration as 1557. It is also one of the most significant Ottoman-era structures. Near to the Spice Bazaar and the Grand Bazaar is the mosque.

There is an enclosure behind the mosque’s qibla wall containing the separate octagonal mausoleums of Suleiman the Magnificent and that of his wife Hurrem Sultan (Roxelana). The Süleymaniye Mosque was the biggest mosque in the town for 462 years before it was surpassed by the Çamlıca Mosque in 2019. Dedicated to Prince Mehmed, with the participation of all state organs, the mosque was completed. Suleiman the Magnificent commissioned it. As a testament to its sturdy construction, the public called it the “mosque that will remain forever”. It is the ideal example of Sinan as an architect’s creativity. Not only was the mosque the representative of a greater moral ideal, but it also functioned as a learning den. It is understood to have been used in its time as a social complex. The Süleymaniye Mosque is one of Istanbul’s best-known sights, and it commands a stunning view of the city around the Golden Horn from its spot on the Third Hill.

(North facade with the forecourt and the central fountain)

Although the mosque is known as Sinan the Architect’s masterpiece, the master himself called it “my work as a mere journeyman.” When designing the mosque, he thought it through to the finest detail. The four Süleymaniye Mosque minarets represent the four sultans who, after the conquest of Constantinople, took the throne. While the ten balconies on the minarets refer to the 10th Ottoman sultan being Suleiman’s. The inscription of the Arabic foundation above the north portal of the mosque is carved on three marble panels in Thuluth script. It gives a date of foundation in 1550 and a date of the inauguration in 1557. In fact, the mosque’s planning started before 1550, and parts of the complex were not finished until after 1557.

The visitor is struck by the elegance of the hand-loomed carpet, absolutely white, upon entering the mosque itself, except for the repeating pattern of a single niche covering the vast expanse of floor. Custom-made, in the 1950s the carpet was installed. On account of the lovely 16th century Iznik (Nicaea) glazed revetment tiles with floral and foliated motifs, the visual focus is occupied by the niche indicating the direction of Mecca (south). The concept of the Süleymaniye also plays on the self-conscious representation of Suleyman as a “second Solomon.” It references the Dome of the Rock, which was built on the site of the Temple of Solomon, as well as Justinian’s boast upon the completion of the Hagia Sophia: “Solomon, I have surpassed thee!” Suleyman’s historical significance is claimed by the Süleymaniye, comparable in magnificence to the previous structures. The structure is however smaller in scale than the Hagia Sophia, its older archetype.

When entering the mosque, an environment of unpretentious plainness strikes one. Within, there are four separate columns, all carried from various locations around the world. Among these are Istanbul’s Vefa district and Topkapı Palace, as well as the Baalbek Temple and the City of Alexandria. The dome is 53 meters in height and 27.5 meters in diameter. In terms of natural lightening given through 32 windows, the mosque is perfectly built. Since it has great acoustics, from any corner, sounds can be heard. It is recognized that under the domes, it is those empty pots that partially explain why the acoustics are so strong.

In the great fire of 1660, the Süleymaniye was destroyed and was rebuilt by Sultan Mehmed IV. During the 1766 earthquake, part of the dome collapsed. Subsequent repairs destroyed what was left of Sinan’s original decor (recent cleaning has shown that Sinan experimented first with blue, before making red the dominant color of the dome). The courtyard was used as an arms depot during World War I, and when some of the ammunition exploded, another fire broke out in the mosque. It was not completely restored again until 1956. In 2013, the building of the Haliç Metro Bridge irreparably altered the view from the north of the mosque.

In 1557, however, Mimar Sinan opened the mosque, finishing it in seven years. The completion of St. Peter’s Basilica was long-awaited, but it was finished in 1626. Sultan Suleiman gave Mimar Sinan the honor of opening this wonderful piece of art at the opening ceremony of the mosque. The door of this great mosque was opened with a golden key and applause and prayers by Mimar Sinan, who complied with this order with reverence. The entrance to the mosque itself is, like the other imperial mosques in Istanbul, followed by a forecourt with a central fountain. Of a colonnaded peristyle with columns of marble, granite, and porphyry, the courtyard is of exceptional grandeur. Rectangular Iznik tile window lunettes decorate the northwest facade of the mosque. The mosque is the first building where the brightly colored tomato red clay under the glaze contains the Iznik tiles.

(Interior looking towards the mihrab)

The tombs in the Süleymaniye Mosque courtyard belong in Ottoman society to dignitaries or renowned public figures such as Asiye and Rabia Sultan, Ahmed the Second, Suleiman the Magnificent, Hurrem Sultan, and Sinan the Architect. The four minarets are located at the four corners of the courtyard. There are three galleries (serifes) in the two taller minarets and they rise to a height of 63.8 m (209 ft) without their lead caps and 76 m (249 ft) with the caps. For mosques endowed by a sultan, four minarets were used (princes and princesses could construct two minarets; others only one). There are a total of 10 galleries in the minarets, which historically means that Suleiman I was the 10th Ottoman sultan. The main dome is 53 meters (174 feet) wide and has a diameter that is precisely half the height of 26.5 meters (86.9 feet).

The complex includes 6 schools, a medical school, a public bath, a soup kitchen, a hospice, shops, and a caravan and stables, in addition to the mosque. It is possible to access the Süleymaniye Mosque via three separate doors situated in its three parts. The mosque’s fountain courtyard welcomes tourists. The mosque’s interior is almost square, 59 meters (194 feet) long and 58 meters (190 feet) wide, creating a single vast space. In terms of the golden ratio, the mosque also stands out. The golden ratio yields a value of 1.618 if the distance is divided by height. With its marvelous features, the fountain in the middle of the courtyard stands out. The white marble mihrab and mimbar are also simple in nature, with simple ivory and mother of pearl designs, and woodwork is limited.

There are two mausoleums in the courtyard behind the main portion of the mosque where Suleiman the Magnificent and his wife Hurrem and their daughter Mihrimah are buried. The tomb of the architect Sinan lies just outside the mosque walls, to the north. In 1922, it was fully rebuilt.

 

Information Sources:

  1. eliteworldhotels.com
  2. istanbul.com
  3. interestingengineering.com
  4. wikipedia
Categories
Architecture History

Shah Mosque, Esfahan, Iran

A mosque located in Isfahan, Iran is the Shah Mosque (Persian: مسجد شاه‎; “Royal Mosque”), also known as the Masjed-e Emām (Persian: ‘Imam Mosque’). The mosque was situated in the center of Eṣfahān, along a wide central mall (city square, or courtyard) called the Maydān-e Emām, part of the reconstruction effort of the Ṣafavid Shah ʿAbbās I (since 1979 a World Heritage site). The mosque is situated on Naghsh-e Jahan Square’s south side. According to the Persian Saying: “Isfahan is half the world”; amazing mosques, bridges, and lovely squares fill the city; in other words, this city will keep tourists busy for days.

In 1597, Shah Abbas relocated the capital of the Safavid dynasty to Isfahan with the intention of focusing on political social, economic, and cultural activities, shifting the center of Isfahan away from the area around the old Friday mosque in the north and bringing it closer to the Zayandeh River. The mosque (Shah Mosque) is considered one of the masterpieces of the Islamic age of Persian architecture. The Royal Mosque is registered as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Naghsh-e Jahan Square. The Masjid-i Shah was the largest architectural memorial to Shah ‘Abbas. The monumental Iwan portal of the mosque is situated exactly opposite the Iwan portal on the Maydan’s northern arcade, which connects the Maydan to the old bazaar to the north.

(Shah Mosque Courtyard)

The construction of the mosques began in 1611 and was completed around 1630, during the rule of Shah Safi, the successor of Abbas, who ruled from 1629 to 1642. The uniqueness of its seven-color mosaic tiles and calligraphic inscriptions is due primarily to its splendor. Later, in 1638, the structure was integrated with marble dadoes. From the inscriptions installed on the structure, which recognize Badi’ al-Zaman Tuni as responsible for the building plans and site arrangement,’ Ali Akbar Isfahani as the architect, and Muhibb’ Ali Beg as the general contractor, much is known about the people involved in the construction of the mosque. On the reverse of the Iranian 20,000 Rials banknote, the mosque is depicted.

Visitors can find a stone under the central dome, right in the middle, that doesn’t fit the stone around it. This stone marks a major acoustic point in the mosque of the Shah. The sound echoes loudly through the rest of the building from here, allowing the imam to speak at a lower level, so everyone in the mosque can still hear it. Completed by the Seljuq dynasty and inherited by the Safavids, the four-iwan format firmly established the courtyard façade of such mosques, with the towering gates on all sides, as being more important than the actual building itself. One enters the mosque from the middle of the southern wall of the Maydan, via a recessed vestibule, where the main entrance to the mosque is situated on the southern wall of the vestibule. On its two other sides (east and west), this area connects to the corridor of the Maydan, which runs behind its commercial facilities.

Islamic architecture thus witnessed the advent of a new brand that differed from the early Arab mosques, such as the Umayyad Mosque’s hypostyle design. The four-iwan format usually took the form of a central courtyard with wide entrances on each side, square-shaped, giving the appearance of being gates to the spiritual world. The rectangular form of the rest of the mosque (100 by 130 meters) is rotated 45 degrees to orient it toward Mecca, where the qibla wall is placed. The main portal is linked to a triangular vestibule to achieve this orientation towards Mecca, connecting it to the courtyard of the mosque through the space behind the northeastern iwan.

(Interior of the main prayer hall in Shah Mosque)

Two 42-meter-high minarets rise on the tops, topped by beautifully carved wooden balconies with muqarnas running down the sides. A small pool and a resting place for the horses stood in the middle, in front of the entrance, and inside the worshipers found a large marble basin set on a pedestal, filled with freshwater or lemonade. This basin is still as it has been for 400 years, but at Friday prayers it no longer serves the purpose of offering refreshments to the worshipers. The mosque’s plan, however, poses an interesting variation: a domed chamber is behind each lateral iwan (on the northwest and southeast). The domed sanctuary behind the southwest iwan is flanked by rectangular rooms that act as winter prayer halls that are entered from the domed sanctuary aligned on the northeast-southwest axis (36 meters by 18 meters each).

One enters the main courtyard after going through the entrance portal, built around a wide pool. At the far end, the two gateways (iwans) on the sides direct one’s attention to the main gateway, the only one with minarets, and the lofty dome with its colorful ornamentation behind it. The halls are protected by eight domes and link to two rectangular arcaded courts serving as madrasas (22 by 44 meters each), which are both aligned on the northeast-southwest axis and accessible only from the domed chambers behind the iwans of the southeast and northwest. The direction of Mecca was indicated by the mihrab, a massive marble tablet ten feet tall and three feet broad on the southwestern wall. The iwan that pointed east from the main courtyard housed a religious school or madrasa.

Both the main iwan portal, overlooking the maydan, and the iwan sanctuary are flanked 34 meters high by a pair of towering cylindrical minarets. Tile mosaics with epigraphic elements are decorated with these minarets. Domes appeared often in the architecture of mosques after the introduction of domes into Islamic architectural designs by Arabs during the 7th century. An inscription band in white on a blue background runs on top of its upper region, marking the beginning of three levels of units of muqanas, each unit outlined with yellow lines and inscribed mainly in blue with a floral arabesque. These muqarnas tend to carry the roofed balcony of the minaret, which wraps around a narrower cylindrical center than the minaret’s lower shaft.

(The Shah Mosque)

The Masjed-e Shah was an immense building, said to have 18 million bricks and 475,000 tiles, costing 60,000 tomans for the Shah to construct. The bulbous dome is covered on the outside with a spiraling arabesque beige on a light blue backdrop. On a high drum and a sixteen-sided transitional zone, the dome rises. The dome of the Masjed-e Shah, reaching 53 meters in height, was to become the tallest in the city when it was completed in 1629. It was designed as a double-shelled dome spanning 14 meters between the two layers, sitting on an octagonal chamber of the dome. At the apex, the interior of the dome is ornamented by a sunburst from which arabesque levels descend. The eight domes are decorated with mosaic tile work with concentric medallions in floral motifs in each of the prayer halls adjacent to the domed sanctuary. From undecorated octagonal columns that divide the space of these halls into eight bays, the arches on which these domes rest ascend.

The Masjed-e Emām is notable, along with the three neighboring structures of the time, for its logically precise vaulting and imaginative use of colored tiles. The port of the mosque is 27 m (89 ft) high, crowned with two 42 m (138 ft) tall minarets. The most majestic iwan in the mosque is 33 m (108 ft) tall, facing the Qibla. The room behind this iwan is roofed with the largest dome in the city at an altitude of 53 m (174 ft). Following the 1979 Iranian Revolution, the mosque was renamed. Water is an important element of design; pools at the center of both the main court and the courts of the madrasas represent the architectural splendor of the Masjid-i Shah.

 

Information Sources:

  1. archnet.org
  2. omnivagant.com
  3. wikipedia