This mosque was built between 1602 and 1619 during the reign of Shah Abbas I. It was the first mosque in the Naghshe Jahan Square, a tribute to Sheikh Lotfollah who was a famous scientist and Shah Abbas’ father-in-law.
This mosque was only for the royal family, unlike the Shah mosque which was built for the public. It is unique because it has neither a minaret(a minaret’s main usage is inviting people to the mosque) nor a courtyard. To avoid the trouble of walking across the Square for his family, Shah Abbas forced the architect to build a tunnel spanning from the Ali Qapu Palace to the mosque.
Architects of the complex were Sheikh Baha’i (chief architect) and Ustad Mohammad Reza Isfahani. This mosque is a masterpiece because of the special lighting mechanism and proportional sizes.
Arthur Upham Pope, a famous American expert on Iranian art and university professor said “it is hard to imagine this mosque is human-made and there is not even a small disadvantage on this building”
When you enter the mosque you must be on the side of Qibla(the direction that should be faced when Muslims pray and it is fixed as the direction of the Kaaba in the city of Mecca). However, if the architect wanted to build the mosque facing Qibla the Naghshe Jahan Square’s harmony would be ruined.
The entrance gateway of the mosque is like Shah mosque. The architect wisely has solved the problem of Qibla by twisting the mosque to the side by turning the shabistan which is a space that can be usually found in the traditional architecture of mosques, houses, and schools. These spaces were usually used during summers and could be ventilated by wind catchers and qanats.
The dome draws everyone’s attention with magnificent and colorful tile work. It makes extensive use of delicate colored tiles that change throughout the day from cream to pink. The sunset is usually the best time to witness this.
Louis Kahn famous American architect said, “I can only imagine this magnificent monument in a fantasy world with An ingredient of gold and silver”.
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