Islamic architecture covers a broad range of mosques, tombs, palaces and forts around the world, especially in countries that were conquered by the Muslims in the 7th century. This type of architecture encompasses various architectural styles, including the Persian and Byzantine style, Ottoman style, Indo-Islamic style, Sino-Islamic style, Indonesian-Malay style, Sahelian-Islamic style and Somali-Islamic style. Its influence began to manifest in Abbasid buildings, T-type mosques and central-dome mosques during the Umayyad Dynasty which relatively featured minarets, four iwan plan, domes and cupolas. Here are 25 fascinating examples of Islamic Architecture:
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Selimiye Mosque. Edirne, Turkey. 1569-1575
Built by Architect Mimar Sinan, this Ottoman mosque located in Edrine, Turkey is considered as one of the highest achievements of Islamic architecture. It stands at the center of a kulliye and features an octagonal support system through eight pillars incised in a square shell of walls. It also has four domes and arches springing from the pillars.
Sixty Dome Mosque. Bagerhat,Bangladesh. 1442-1459
More commonly known as the Shait Gambuj Mosque or Saith Gunbad Masjid, the Sixty Dome Mosque is often recognized as the most impressive Muslim monument in the whole Indian continent. It has walls of unusually thick and tapered bricks and a hit-shaped roofline. It is known for its 77 squat domes with four-sided pitched Bengali domes in the middle row.
Si-yo-se-pol. Isfahan, Iran. 1599-1602
Also known as the Allah-Verdi Khan Bridge, Siosepol or Siose Bridge is ranked as one of the most famous examples of Safavid bridge design. This bridge consists of 33 arches and crosses the Sayandeh River. At the start of this bridge is a larger base plank.
Dome of the Rock. Jerusalem. 691 C.E.
The Dome of the Rock is located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. Completed at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abdal-Malik during the Second Fitna, this dome has a plan structure that resembles that of the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Its interior is lavishly decorated with mosaic, faience and marble, while its exterior is covered with tiles.
Great Mosque of Damascus. Old City of Damascus. 715 C.E.
Also known as the Umayyad Mosque, the Great Mosque of Damascus is one of the largest and oldest mosques in the world and is considered the fourth holiest place in Islam. Its ground plan is rectangular in shape and its courtyard is enclosed with four exterior walls. Since its completion, this mosque has served as a model for congregational mosque architecture in Syria.
Great Mosque of Samarra. Samarra, Iraq. 847-861 A.D.
The Great Mosque of Samarra is a 9th century mosque that was completed by Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil. Its most remarkable feature is its minaret, the Malwiya Tower, which is a vast spiraling cone 52 meters high and 33 meters wide. This mosque has 17 aisles and its walls are paneled with mosaics of dark blue glass.
Tomb of Jahangir. Lahore, Pakistan. 1605
A mausoleum built by Jahangir, the Tomb of Jahangir is basically made of red stone, marble and bricks. It has two massive gateways of stone and masonry opposite each other as well as a platform with a tall, octagonal tower and a projecting entrance in the middle of each side. The ground floor of this tomb also has a square shape.
Fortress of Al-Ukhaidir. Karbala, Iraq. 775-756 A.D
The Fortress of Al-Ukhaidir is a large, rectangular fortress more commonly known as the Abbasid Palace of Ukhaider in Karbala, Iraq. This fortress represents Abbasid architectural innovation especially in the structures of its courtyards, residences and mosque. It features a primary hall, a big Iwan, and servants’ quarters.
Great Mosque of Kairouan. Kairouan, Tunisia. 670 A.D
Also known as the Mosque of Uqba, the Great Mosque of Kairouan is considered one of the most important mosques in Tunisia. This mosque is one of the oldest places of worship in the Islamic world and is one of the most impressive and largest Islamic monuments in North Africa. It features a hypostyle prayer hall, a marble-paved courtyard and a square minaret.
Nur-Astana Mosque. Astana, Kazakhstan. 2008
Located in the city of Astana in Kazakhastan, the Nur-Astana Mosque is the largest mosque not only in Kazakhstan but in the whole of Central Asia. Its structure is made of glass, concrete, granite and alucobond measures. This mosque has a capacity of 5,000 worshipers and its height symbolizes the age of Prophet Muhammad when he began to receive revelations.
Suleiman Mosque. Istanbul, Turkey. 1550-1558
This mosque is an Ottoman imperial mosque that is located on the Third Hill of Istanbul. Today, it is one of the best known tourist attractions in Turkey. Its interior is almost a square, and just like most Islamic mosques, it is preceded by a monumental courtyard. It was especially designed to stand as a kuliiye, or a complex with adjacent structures.
Rüstem Pasha Mosque. Istanbul, Turkey. 1561-1563
Another Ottoman mosque located in Istanbul, Turkey, the Rustem Pasha Mosque was built on a high terrace over a complex of vaulted shops. Its narrow, twisting steps in the corners are what give access to its spacious courtyard. This mosque is most famous for its large quantities of exquisite Iznic tiles set in floral and geometric designs.
Great Mosque of Djenne. Mali Djenne, Mali. 1907
The Great Mosque of Djenne is considered one of the greatest achievements of Islamic architecture, particularly the Sudao-Sahelian style. Located in Djenne, Mali, it was the first mosque on the site and is one of the most famous landmarks in Africa today. Its walls are sun-baked earth bricks coated with plaster.
Agra Fort. Agra, Uttar Pradesh, India. 11th century
The sister monument of the famous Taj Mahal, the Agra Fort is another UNESCO World Heritage site. It is a brick fort with a semicircular plan, with its chord lying parallel to the river and its walls seventy feet high. In 2004, this fort won the Aga Khan Award for Architecture.
Al-Azhar Mosque. Cairo, Egypt. 972 A.D.
The Al-Azhar Mosque in Islamic Cairo was constructed for the newly established capital city of Egypt in 970. It was the first mosque to be built in Cairo and was originally designed to be a prayer hall with five halls and a modest courtyard. Its stucco exterior displays influences from Byzantine architecture.
Shah Mosque. Isfahan, Iran. 1629
Also known as Imam or Jameh Abbasi Mosque, the Shah Mosque stands in the south side of Naghsh-I Jahan Square in Isfahan, Iran. It was built during the Safavi period and serves as an excellent example of Islamic architecture. Considered as one of the everlasting masterpieces of architecture in Iran, this mosque is remarkable for the beauty of its seven-color mosaic tiles and calligraphic inscriptions.
The Great Mosque of Xi’an. Shaanxi Province, China. 742 A.D.
The Great Mosque of Xi’an is the oldest and one of the most famous mosques in China. The original structure was established in 742 A.D. but it was built and renovated in later periods. This mosque is characterized by its Arabic lettering and decorations. Unlike most Islamic mosques, it has neither domes nor traditional style minarets.
Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque. Isfahan, Iran. 1603-1618
This mosque is one of the best architectural masterpieces of Islamic architecture. Standing on the eastern side of Naghsh-I Jahan Square in Iran, it has an entry gateway that resembles those of the Grand Bazaar and the Masjed-e Shah. One of its most unique characteristics is the peacock standing at the center of its dome.
Soltaniyeh Dome. Zanjan, Iran. 1302–1312
Also known as Muhammad Khodabandeh, the Soltaniyeh Dome in Zanjan, Iran is the oldest double-shell dome in Iran. It is the third largest brick dome in the world and has served to pave the way for more daring Iranian architectural style in the Muslim world. Its interior retains Islamic architecture influence with its mosaics, faience and murals.
Badshahi Mosque. Lahore, Pakistan. 1671-1673
The Badshahi Mosque is known to epitomize the beauty and grandeur of the Mughal era and is the most famous tourist attraction in the area. Its design is basically inspired by Islamic, Persian and Central Asian influences. Its exterior is decorated with stone carving and marble while its interior is embellished with stucco tracery.
Bibi-Heybat Mosque. Baku, Azerbaijan. 13th century
A historical mosque in Baku, the Bibi-Heybat Mosque houses the tomb of Ukeyma Khanum and now serves as the spiritual center of Muslims in the region. Also known as the “Mosque of Fatima,” this mosque has an interior that is richly decorated with ornaments. It has a 20-meter high minaret and inside it is an oblong rectangular room with a lancet arch.
Chili Kiosk. Istanbul, Turkey. 1473
This kiosk is decorated with glazed faience and has a square ground plan. Designed by a Persian architect, it features an arcaded entrance portico and a roofed interior with an elaborated arrangement of ribbed vaults and lofty central dome.
The Alhambra. Granada, Spain. 1338-1390
This sprawling palace in Granada, Spain was originally designed by Ibn Al-Ahmar and features a series of courtyards surrounded by rooms. Its overall structure presents a varied repertoire of Moorish Islamic architecture through its columns, arches and domes. It is remarkable for its slender columnar arcades, fountains and the light reflecting water basins in its courtyards.
Sultan Hassan Mosque. Cairo, Egypt. 1353-1363
The Sultan Hassan Mosque is a collegiate mosque characterized by its cruciform plan, iwans, recessed porches, immense pointed arches and other splendid architectural effects despite its minimum decoration. It has a domed entrance hall and elaborate muqarnas-headed opening.
Taj Mahal. Agra, Uttar Padesh, India. 1632-1653
This white marble mausoleum was built by Mughal emperor hah Jahan in memory of his third wife, Mumtaz Mahal. It is widely recognized as “the jewel of Muslim art in India” and is one of the most universally admired masterpieces of the world’s heritage. Its exterior decorations are among the finest in Mughal architecture.