I had been to Iran on pilgrimage twice before, but each time our visits were restricted to Mashhad and Qom, where two holy Shia shrines are located. This time I was fortunate to be able to do some sightseeing in Teheran and Isfahan as well.
The life of Isfahan is it’s Naqsh e Jahan square now called the Emam square.
It is the second largest square in the world after the Tiananmen square.
It is home to the Safavid 16c Ali Qopu palace, The Emam Mosque and what is called the prettiest Mosque in the world – Luftullah Mosque and Kaiseriya bazar
The Emam Square or Naqsh e Jahan square of Isfahan built by Shah Abbas I.
Though Persia as it was known earlier was a developed civilization under the Safavid Dynasty (1501-1736) there was a Persian Renaissance late in the 16th c
The Qeisarie Gate to the Bazar of same name ( pictured above) stands opposite the Shah Mosque on the longer side of the rectangle. The magnificent Emam Mosque or Shah Mosque in the square was made on a grand scale.
Shah Abbas I chose Isfahan as his new capital and built a beautiful city in the desert.
Since Iran did not have easily available good quality stone they used earth or clay bricks as the main building material
They invented a new method of depicting beforehand an arabesque pattern or figurative scene with polychrome glazes on each large-sized tile panel of 20 to 30cm, and set them in place efficientlyThese were covered by tiles leading to their glorious tiled buildings.
In the case of the Shah Mosque a beautiful blue and cream dream was created to create a sacred space for the faithful to pray in and honor the dervesh who had played a role in consolidation of Shah Abbas Safavi I ‘s rule.
The Shah Mosque was built as a Jami Masjid to replace the old one. The leading architect of the era, Shaykh Bahai was in charge of the project.
The entrance is in line with the rectangle but since the Qibla direction was not a series of beautiful vaulted passages open out onto a huge courtyard and thus place the main prayer hall in correct alignment. The architect managed to resolve the gap of 45 degrees between the Royal Mosque in the direction of Makka and the existing Royal Square with these vaulted passages so that they open in front of the main prayer hall which has the Qibla wall.
There are two grand gateways and prayer halls on either side of the main prayer hall.
The prayer hall on the right side
Two madrasas are attached to these sides.
The madrasa looked very peaceful and conducive to prayers and piety.
I had taken an audio guide withe or else I would have missed a unique architectural feature of the mosque – its acoustic properties. Anyone speaking under the dome will be clearly heard by anyone inside because of the bouncing of sound waves on this stone.
The variety of blue colors in interior and exterior tiled walls became the signature of the mosque. This is the done of the prayer hall.
This faience tile method, called Haft Rangi (seven colors) , “polychrome mosaics”) decorate the mosque
because of its combination of seven colors, made Persian architecture quite resplendent.
The Persians perfected the tile-mosaic style by cutting colored ceramic tiles into small pieces to put together in intended patterns.
This panel in the Shah Mosque or Emam Mosque in Isfahan has figures of all the birds mentioned in the Quran.