Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque... - Secret World

Esfahan, Regione di Esfahan, Iran

Lara Kipling


Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the masterpieces of Iranian architecture. It was built by the prominent architect Sheikh Bahai in the early 17th century (from 1603 to 1619) under the order of Shah Abbas the Great- the 5th Safavid king. The starting date for the construction is visible on Reza Abbasi’s inscription on the main entrance. The mosque is located on the eastern side of Naqsh-e Jahan Square (UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the largest squares in the world with 160 meters wide and 508 meters long) just opposite Ali Qapu Palace, Isfahan, Iran. Its northern side opens into the Isfahan Grand Bazaar. Visit unique Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque When Traveling to Iran and enjoy its unique exquisite tile work. Since the minarets have been used for the invitation of the public for saying prayers after Islam, this small private mosque- without any courtyard, minarets, and interior iwans- is believed to have been built for the women of the king’s harem. By Shah Abbas’s command, a tunnel was built from Ali Qapu Palace to the mosque, so that the females of the royal family did not have to walk across the square. They could reach the mosque without being seen in public. The guards protected the tunnel and the main entrance of the mosque and the doors were kept closed to avoid anyone to enter the building. The mosque was dedicated to Shah Abbas’s father-in-law, Sheikh Lutfallah, a revered Lebanese Islam scholar who died in 1622. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is founded on a square ground plan that turns into an octagonal form in the upper parts and finally transforms into a circle by means of the squinches. This rectangle-to-circle transition plan evokes Sassanid architecture. Despite its simple structure, this small mosque is very rich in tile working and calligraphy. Moreover, the amazing play of light and color – coming through sixteen lattice windows around the lower part of the dome- will astound the enthusiastic visitors. The façade built with marble is decorated with seven-colored mosaics (called as haft-rang tiles in Persian). The calligraphy was supervised by Ali Reza Abbasi, the famous Iranian master of calligraphy. Due to the difference between the direction of Qibla and the main entrance of the building, the architect Mohammad Reza Isfahani designed an L-shaped hallway connecting the entrance and the sanctuary of the mosque. The structure lies at a 45-degree angle against the Naqsh-e Jahan square eastern wall. As a result, the dome (that is 32 m high and 12 m in diameter) and the main entrance iwan do not fall on the same axis, unlike other mosques.