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Imam Mosque 2017-03-06

Imam Mosque

The Imam Mosque, also known as Royal Mosque or Shah Mosque after Iranian revolution, is a mosque in Isfahan, standing in south side of Naghsh-e Jahan Square. It is regarded as one of the masterpieces of Persian architecture in the Islamic era.

The Royal Mosque is registered, along with the Naghsh-e Jahan Square, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s construction began in 1611, during the region of Shah Abbas I, and its splendor is mainly due to the beauty of its seven-color mosaic tiles and calligraphic inscriptions.

The mosque represents the culmination of a thousand years of mosque building and a magnificant example of architecture, stone caving and tile work in Iran, with a majesty and splendor that places it among the world’s greatest building.

The fact that sound is equally carried to all parts of the dome chamber and cloister on each side as well as to the courtyard and the lateral porches indicates that four centuries ago, Iranian architects were able to produce buildings provided with ecoustics not inferior to those of any modern building.

Design – the four – iwan style

The Safavid founded the Shah Mosque as a channel through which they could express themselves with their numerous architectural techniques.

The four iwan format, finalized by the Seljuq dynasty, and inherited by the Safavids, firmly established the courtyard facade of such mosques, with the towering gateways at every side, as more important that the actual building itself.

During Seljuq rule, as Islamic mysticism was on the rise and Persians were looking for a new type of architectural design that emphasized a Persian identity, the four-iwan arrangement took form. The Persians already had a rich architectural legacy, and the distinct shape of the iwan was actually taken form earlier, Sassanid palace – designs, such as the palace of Ardashir.

Religious Buildings

Inside, the acoustic properties and reflections at the central point under the dome is an amazing interest for many visitors, as the ingenuity of the architects, when creating the dome, enables the Imam to speak with a subdued voice and still be heard by everyone inside the building.

The mihrab, a large marble tablet ten feet tall and three feet wide on the southwestern wall, indicated the direction of Mecca. Above it the Shah’s men had placed a gold-encrusted cupboard of allow wood. It hold two relics: a Quran, said to have been copied by Imam Reza, and the bloodstained robe of Imam Hossain.

From the main courtyard, the iwan pointing to east contained a religious school, or madrasa. The iwan in western corner leads  to another madrasa and a winter mosque.

The dome 

After the introduction of domes into Islamic architectural designs by Arabs during the 7th century, domes appeared frequently in the architecture of mosques. The oldest Persian building containing a dome is the Grand Mosque of Zavareh, dating 1135.


The Masjed-e Shah was a huge structure, said to contain 18 milion bricks and 475000 tiles, having cost the Shah 60000 tomans to build.

It employed the new Haft Rangi (seven-color) style of tile mosaic. In earlier Iranian mosques the tiles had been made of faince mosaic, a slow and exoensive process where tiny pieces are cut from monochrome tiles and assembled to create intricate designs.

The entrance portal of the mosque displays the finest tile decoration in the building. It is entirely executed in tile mosaic in a fall palette of seven colors (dark Persian blue, light Turkish blue, white, black, yellow, green and bisquit). Facing northwards, the mosque’s portal to the Maidan is usually under shadow but since it has been coated with radiant tile mosaics it glitters with a predominantly blu light of extraordinary intensity.

The architect of the mosque is reported to be Ali Akbar Isfahani.


Portal of the mosque: 27 m high

Two minarets: 42 m

The iwan facing the Qibla: 33 m high

Whole of construction measurement: 100 by 130 m

Central courtyard: 70 by 70 m




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