islamic architecture - by k.j. benoy

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Comparative presentation


Islamic ArchitectureComparative Civilizations 12 K.J. Benoy

Mosques The Most notable type of building is the mosque. Originally this was only a large open area where the faithful would gather. The original mosque was probably the courtyard of Mohammads house in Medina.


The courtyard descendant of the basilicas atrium and the Egyptian temple court, remains a feature of most mosques today

Mosques Within the courtyard is usually an ablution fountain where the worshipper symbolically washes before prayer.

Mosques Certain characteristics are present in most mosques. The Mihrab, or niche, indicates the Qibla, the direction of Mecca, which the faithful must face when praying.


There is also a minbar, or pulpit, from which sermons are delivered.

Mosques And a minaret, or tower, from which the Muezzin call the faithful to prayer. Originally this call was made from the main roof of the mosque. Minarets developed from Christian bell towers. Later they influenced Christian designs.

Mosques The social obligations within the religion later led to the addition of madrassa (schools, colleges or universities) attached. Occasionally there were and are also hospitals.

Mosques Moslems borrowed extensively from neighbouring civilization because there was no native architectural style in Mohammads homeland.

Hagia Sophia converted to a mosque after the Moslem conquest of Constantinople

The Blue Mosque - Istanbul Istanbuls Blue Mosque is clearly based on the Hagia Sophia. Mehmet Agas 17th century structure rises 77 feet to the top of its central dome.

The Blue Mosque - Istanbul It is actually built facing Justinians Church, on the site of the old Imperial Palace.

The Blue Mosque - Istanbul

Central dome of Istanbuls Blue Mosque

The Blue Mosque - Istanbul

Note the massive pendentive and windowed drum.

The Blue Mosque - Istanbul The Blue Mosque is more properly known as the Sultan Ahmed Mosque. Its more common western name comes from the wide use of blue Iznik tiles.

The Blue Mosque - Istanbul

This mosque is particularly notable for its six minarets.

The Blue Mosque - Istanbul

The Blue Mosque - Istanbul Stained glass creates a magical lighting effect. However, unlike European stained glass, there are no images of people, due to Mohammads prohibition against them.

The Blue Mosque - Istanbul It is the magnificent dome and adjoining halfdomes that impress most. Built a thousand years after the Hagia Sophia, the Blue Mosque displays more grace than its predecessor.

The Great Mosque at Samarra, Iraq Regional variations in Islamic architecture reflect local traditions, where they exist. The Great Mosque at Samarra has a minaret in the style of a Babylonian Ziggurat.

The Grand Mosque - Mecca

Meccas Grand Mosque houses Islams most holy site the Kaaba, which all moslems face to pray. It features the Kaaba in its massive courtyard.

The Grand Mosque - Mecca

This simple cube-shaped building predates Islam, but is a site of pilgrimage for millions of moslems.

The Black stone at one of its corners is, contrary to Koranic teaching, venerated by many Moslems.

The Dome of the Rock - Jerusalem This is one of Islams earliest mosques. It is built on a site holy to Jews, Christians and Moslems. Note the Byzantine inspired Central Plan.

The Dome of the Rock - Jerusalem

Interior of the Dome of the Rock where Abraham intended to sacrifice Isaac and where, for a time, Mohammad directed Moslems to face when praying until Mecca became a Moslem city.

The Blue Mosque - Isfahan Iranian mosques frequently used the same blue tiles as was popular in Ottoman Turkey. However, their Iwan (great Hall) form and characteristic monumental entrances are purely Persian in design.

Mosque of Sheik LotfallahIsfahan

Note the ornate and characteristically Persian dome. Note also the tendence toward horror vacui.

Mogul Architecture The Moslem conquerors of India developed an architecture of particular grace and grandeur. Persian domes and great gates appeared throughout northern India.

Mogul Architecture Sometimes Islamic and Hindu features were fused as in Akbars palace complex at Fatehpur Sikri. In the pavilion to the right one sees the traditional trabeated Hindu features, merged with Persian domes.

The Taj Mahal

The most famous Mogul building of all is neither a palace or a mosque. Rather, it is a mausoleum to house the favourite wife of a mogul emperor.

The Taj Mahal

The Taj Mahal Modelled on a mosque, the building is sited in a garden. The glistening white marble appears almost weightless, despite the volume of masonry.

The Taj Mahal Unlike its Persian predecessors, there is no sense of horror vacui. Rather, the inlaid stone work has a restrained feel of balance and harmony. Floral decoration, and, especially passages from the Koran in magnificent calligraphy, decorate its marble surfaces.

The Mesquita -- Cordoba In Spain, some of the most exuberant Moslem architecture evolved. A prime example of this Moorish architecture is theMesquite (mosque) in Cordoba.

The Mesquita - Cordoba The horseshoeshaped double arch atop its forest of columns is easily identified. The double arch helped to increase the vertical height of the ceiling.

The Mesquita - Cordoba

The Mesquita - Cordoba Close examination of the pillar capitals reveal that they are recycled from earlier buildings both Roman and Germanic.

The Mesquita - Cordoba Another prominent feature is the incredibly intricate arching found in the Mihrab here called the Capilla de Villaviciosa.

The Mesquita - Cordoba

The vaulting is also wondrously complex, showing the Arab love of geometry

The Mesquita - Cordoba Perhaps the strangest feature of the Mesquita today is th Christian church carved out of the middle of the original mosque. Yet another example of cultural recycling but strangely out of keeping with the rest of the building.

The Alhambra - Grenada For a time Grenada was the Moorish capital of Spain. The Alhambra palace complex contains some of the most beautiful Islamic architecture in the world.

The Alhambra - Grenada

The Court of Lions, with its slim columns and carved lace-like wall surfaces are unique.

The Alhambra - Grenada

The Alhambra - Grenada The carved stucco of the ceiling in the Hall of the Two Sisters is unparalleled in beauty and geometrical complexity.

The Alhambra - Grenada Of particular note is the use of water as an architectural feature. The Patio de los Aranyanes shows the value of water to a culture with desert roots.

The Generalife - Grenada The fountains and abundant water features serve to reduce the temperature of the palace gardens.

Mud Mosque at Djenne - Mali

One of the strangest Islamic structures in the world is the mud mosque at Djenne.

Mud Mosque at Djenne - Mali Here the palm wood beams extend out in order to support scaffolding for the workers who must annually plaster its surface.

Islamic Architecture Today Traditional features remain apparent, but are interpreted in novel ways. New building materials and techniques create new and interesting possibilities.Shah Faisal Mosque, Islamabad, Pakistan.

Islamic Architecture Today

Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque, in Brunei.



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