A mosque is a place of worship for followers of Islam. Usually with very striking and imposing architecture on the exterior, with domes and minarets being key features, mosques are a calm and peaceful place inside, with prayer halls and refreshment facilities. Although originating in the Arabian Peninsula, mosques are now found on all inhabited continents, and here I take a look at five of the most impressive mosques from around the world:
5. JAMA MASJID
The largest mosque in India by far, Jama Masjid is is also one of New Delhi’s main tourist attractions. It is located in Old Delhi, not too far from the historic Red Fort, and was commissioned by the famous Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan in 1650. Inside its doors, Jama Masjid contains an antiquated copy of the Quran written on deer skin.
4. ISTIQLAL MOSQUE
With Indonesia being the most populous Muslim nation on Earth, it should come as no surprise that the Indonesian capital of Jakarta is the location for the striking Istiqlal Mosque – and it certainly dominates the skyline. It sits in Merdeka Square and was opened to the public in 1978.
3. SHEIKH ZAYED GRAND MOSQUE
The brainchild of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the aptly named Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was designed to represent the cultural diversity of the Islamic world. In fact, Sheikh Zayed’s final resting place is in the actual mosque itself. There is a capacity of 40,000 people inside the mosque, which is at its busiest during the EID Festival each year. I am always fascinated by the architecture of this mosque, and I learned that there are over 80 different domes in its design. The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is surely the crown jewel of the United Arab Emirates.
2. THE BLUE MOSQUE
The Blue Mosque, or Sultan Ahmet Cami, is situated in Istanbul, Turkey. Built in 1616 during the rule of Ahmed I, this mosque is a fantastic example of classical Ottoman architecture and is very photogenic. Also known as Sultan Ahmed Mosque to the locals, the Blue Mosque is so-called because of its blue tiles in the interior. It is without question deserving of its status as one of the city’s main tourist attractions. Unlike nearby Hagia Sophia, which is now a museum, the Blue Mosque is a real mosque where Muslims go to pray every day. As such, your dress code when visiting should be respectful and fully comply with the regulations (i.e. no skimpy shorts, or vests). Please read my further thoughts on The Blue Mosque.
1. MASJID AL-HARAM
Masjid Al-Haram in Mecca, Saudi Arabia, otherwise known as the Grand Mosque, is the granddaddy of all Mosques in the Muslim World, and surrounds one of the holiest places in Islam, the Kaaba. During Hajj, pilgrims descend into Mecca by their thousands. Including the outdoor areas, Masjid Al-Haram covers an astonishing area of 88 acres, and unlike other mosques in the world there is no segregation, meaning that men and women can worship together, which is a very rare thing in Saudi Arabia!