This architecture is a centuries-old style that is based on Islamic ideals. Islamic constructions are among the most awe-inspiring structures on the planet, with their remarkable sculptural shapes and frequently brilliant ornate detail. Islamic architecture is predominantly found in Arab nations and Muslim-majority countries across the world, as well as European countries with Arab or Islamic past, such as Spain and Portugal. From Islam’s early history to the current day, it incorporates both secular and religious forms. The minaret, for example, was meant to aid the muezzin in making his voice audible throughout a certain region, and Islamic architecture developed to meet Islamic religious objectives.
Islamic architecture is a form of architecture founded by Mohammedans (those of Islamic faith) in the 7th century as a tangible representation of Islamic beliefs, a tradition that continues to this day. The mosque, or Muslim place, is the most commonly connected building with Islamic architecture. However, Islamic architecture includes both secular and religious constructions, ranging from large-scale mosques, castles, palaces, tombs, and public buildings like schools to smaller-scale fountains, public baths, and household structures.
Early Islamic Architecture
Early Islamic religious architecture, such as Jerusalem’s Dome of the Rock (AD 691) and Damascus’ Great Mosque (AD 705), included Christian architectural elements such as domes, columnar arches, and mosaics, as well as huge courts for communal prayer and a mihrab. The semicircular horseshoe arch and rich, nonrepresentational surface embellishment have been used since the beginning. The construction of the hypostyle mosque (see hypostyle hall) in Iraq and Egypt revolutionized religious design. In Iran, a mosque layout was employed that consisted of four eyvans (vaulted halls) that opened into a central court. The interiors of these brick-built mosques were additionally adorned with domes and decorative squinches.
The “Iranian plan” of mosque construction occurs for the first time during the Seljuqs. Travelers and their animals stayed in khans, or caravanserais, which had functional rather than aesthetic design, including rubble masonry, strong defenses, and limited comfort. Seljuq architecture blended a variety of styles, both Iranian and Syrian, making precise attributions problematic at times. The construction of mausolea, such as the Gunbad-i-qabus (about 1006-7) (and the domed square, such as the mausoleum of the Samanids in the city of Bukhara, was another prominent architectural tendency throughout the Seljuk era (circa 943).
The Ottoman Empire’s architecture evolved from older Seljuk architecture, with influences from Byzantine and Iranian architecture, as well as Balkan and Middle Eastern architectural traditions. The Ottoman Empire’s classical architecture was a blend of native Turkish heritage and inspirations from Hagia Sophia. Mimar Sinan, whose works include the Süleymaniye Mosque in Istanbul and the Selimiye Mosque in Edirne, is one of the outstanding representations of this time.
The Ottoman architecture was inspired by Baroque architecture in Western Europe beginning in the 18th century. Nuruosmaniye Mosque is one of the few instances of this time that has survived. More Western European elements were introduced during the later Ottoman period, thanks to architects like the Balyan family. During this time, architects like Mimar Kemaleddin and Vedat Tek developed a new architectural style known as neo-Ottoman or Ottoman revivalism, also known as the First National Architectural Movement.
The Iberian Peninsula And Western African Architecture
The architectural style that arose in the old Muslim world’s westernmost areas is known as “Moorish architecture.” The name “Moorish” stems from the Muslim population of these areas being referred to as “Moors” by Europeans. Scholars frequently refer to this subject as “Western Islamic architecture” or “architecture of the Islamic west.” Between 711 and 1492, this architectural style flourished in Al-Andalus (modern-day Spain and Portugal) and western North Africa, including Morocco, Algeria, and Tunisia (part of the Maghreb).
It incorporated influences from North African Berber culture, pre-Islamic Spain (Roman, Byzantine, and Visigothic), and contemporary artistic currents in the Islamic Middle East to create a distinct style that evolved over centuries and included recognizable features like the “Moorish” arch, riad gardens (symmetrically divided courtyard gardens), and elaborate geometric and arabesque motifs in wood, stucco, and tilework. The great capitals of the empires and Muslim nations throughout the region’s history, such as Cordoba, Kairouan, Fes, Marrakesh, Seville, Granada, and Tlemcen, were major foci of this creative growth. The Great Mosque of Cordoba, the palace-city of Madinat al-Zahra (near Cordoba), the Qarawiyyin Mosque (in Fes), the Great Mosque of Tlemcen, the Kutubiyya Mosque (Marrakesh), and the Giralda tower (Seville) are among the most well-known structures from these locations.
Modern Islamic Architecture
Islamic architecture, not merely religious architecture, has seen some alterations in recent times. The new architectural style does not adhere to the same core elements as previous styles, although mosques still have the same components—the Mirb, the minarets, the four-iwan design, and the pishtaq. The advent of mosques without domes is notable, as, in the past, mosques almost always had them. However, these new dome-less mosques tend to follow a function above form design, and are, in most cases, designed by persons who are not of the Islamic faith. The influence of Islam continues to pervade the manner of creation, providing a ‘conceptual framework’ for the construction of a structure that illustrates Islam’s aesthetics and values It has also been impacted by the current meeting of many various civilizations, such as European and Islamic styles colliding, resulting in Islamic architects adopting elements from other architectural and cultural forms.
Examples of Islamic Architecture
The Taj Majal
The Taj Mahal includes and develops on Indo-Islamic and older Mughal architectural design traditions. The Gur-e Amir (the tomb of Timur, the founder of the Mughal dynasty, in Samarkand), Humayun’s Tomb (which inspired the Charbagh gardens and hasht-behesht (architecture) plan of the site), Itmad-Ud-Tomb Daulah’s (also known as the Baby Taj), and Shah Jahan’s own Jama Masjid in Delhi were all sources of inspiration. Red sandstone was the primary building material for earlier Mughal structures, but Shah Jahan encouraged the use of white marble inlaid with semi-precious stones. Buildings under his patronage were refined to unprecedented heights.
The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site erected on a plateau above Granada, Spain, in the 14th century. While some of the original structures have been lost over the previous 700 years, what remains is a spectacular example of Islamic architectural adornment, including carved wood and stucco, colorful tiling, calligraphy, and muqarnas that adorn the Court of Lions.
The Friday Mosque
The huge Friday Mosque is located in the heart of Esfahan, a city rich in architectural gems. A mosque has been on the site since the 8th century, but the two domes erected during the Seljuk dynasty, which dominated portions of Iran in the 11th century, are the earliest sections of the existing edifice. The mosque was erected in the early 12th century around a rectangular courtyard flanked on each side by an iwan—a sort of hall with one side opening onto a lofty arch. The four-iwan design, which was initially seen in Esfahan, eventually became the standard for Iranian mosques.
Great Mosque of Samarra
With a total size of about 42 acres, the Great Mosque of Samarra (in Iraq) was perhaps the biggest mosque in the world when it was erected by the Abbasid caliph Al-Mutawakkil (reigned 847–861) in 850. The mosque was constructed of baked brick and has blue glass inside. During the Mongol conquest commanded by Hulagu in 1258, much of the construction was destroyed, but one of the most remarkable elements, the 170-foot (52-meter) minaret, was preserved. The minaret is shaped like a cone and is surrounded by a spiraling ramp that reaches the summit. It’s unknown why the architects picked the conical design; some have said it resembles an old ziggurat.
The Citadel of Aleppo
The castle on top of a hill in the heart of Aleppo, Syria, is one of the outstanding examples of Islamic military architecture still standing. Although fortifications going back to Roman times and older have been discovered on the site, the citadel was built in the 10th century and expanded and rebuilt extensively during the Ayyubid dynasty (about 1171–1260). There are dwellings, supply rooms, wells, mosques, and defensive installations within the citadel’s walls—everything needed to withstand a protracted siege.
Suleyman’s Mosque Complex
The Suleymaniye Mosque complex, which rises on an artificial platform overlooking the Bosporus and has a towering dome and minarets, is one of the most conspicuous aspects of Istanbul’s skyline. It is the tallest and possibly the most magnificent of the imperial mosque complexes in Istanbul, built by Ottoman emperor Suleyman the Magnificent between 1550 and 1557 at the height of the Ottoman Empire’s supremacy. The mosque’s interior consists of a single square-shaped chamber with over 100 huge windows, many of which are stained glass. The minimal decoration does not detract from the central dome’s magnificent grandeur, which spans 90 feet (27.5 meters) in circumference. A hospital, numerous religious schools, a row of shops, a tomb, and a bath are all located surrounding the mosque. The complex was created by Sinan, an Ottoman master architect whose structures were instrumental in establishing a unique Ottoman style of architecture, and it is regarded as one of his finest. The structure contains the graves of both Sinan and Suleyman.
Heydar Aliyev Center
This award-winning 2013 cultural center was created by Iraqi-British architect Zaha Hadid, who died in 2016, and is a well-known example of a contemporary form of Islamic style. The structure reinterprets the classic Islamic flow of architectural features, connecting with centuries of heritage while seeming decisively contemporary.
Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse
The Sultan Amir Ahmad Bathhouse, which spans 1000 square meters, is divided into two sections: the sarbineh (dressing hall) and the garmkhaneh (bathroom) (hot bathing hall). The sarbineh is a vast octagonal hall with an octagonal pool in the center, divided from the outside half by eight pillars. The garmkhaneh is divided into four sections by four pillars, which create smaller bathing rooms all around and the entry portion to the khazineh (final bathing room) in the center. Turquoise and gold tilework, plasterwork, brickwork, and beautiful murals adorn the interior of the bathhouse. The bathhouse’s roof is made up of numerous domes with convex glass to offer adequate illumination while hiding the baths from the outside.
The Salamlek Palace, completed in 1892 by Khedive Abbas II, the last Muhammad Ali Dynasty king to wield the Khedive title over the Khedivate of Egypt and Sudan, was the first building on the large Montaza Palace grounds. It served as a hunting lodge as well as a place of abode for his companion.
The bigger Al-Haramlik Home and royal gardens were added to the grounds of the Montaza Palace, which was established as a summer palace by King Fuad I in 1932. It has two towers and is built in an Ottoman and Florentine style. One of these towers stands out with its detailed Italian Renaissance design elements from afar. Each floor of the palace includes vast open arcades overlooking the sea.
Burj Al Arab, Dubai
Burj Al Arab is one of the world’s most luxury hotels, claiming to be the world’s only seven-star hotel. It was designed to look like a yacht sail. Two “wings” extend out in a V- shape to form a gigantic “mast,” with a big atrium enclosing the area between them.
Hassan II Mosque
Unquestionably, the Hassan II Mosque reflects the continuation of a modernized ancestral art and bears the indication of advances that are owed not just to technical considerations but also a productive investigation of new aesthetic possibilities. The structure has a length of 200 meters (660 feet) and a width of 100 meters (330 feet). Except for three Italian white granite columns and 56 glass chandeliers, all of the granite, plaster, marble, wood, and other materials used in the building came from Morocco.
Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque
This mosque was built in 1888. The magnificent colored glass decorations are a sight to behold. When the sun shines through these windows, the entire room is bathed in a hazy, vibrant glow. The orsi in Nasir al Molk mosque is a prominent distinguishing element that contributes to the visitor’s vivid spiritual sense of wonder upon entering. Orsi’s major goal is to illuminate the interior of the structure with multicolored light. The internal mosque is connected to the courtyard by seven wooden doors with multicolored Orsi. Due to the restriction of pictures and iconography in Islamic art, Orsi windows are known for adopting geometric shapes in their designs.
This mosque was constructed at the height of Ottoman military and cultural dominance. The monarch attempted to consolidate Edirne as the empire grew. The typical positioning of different-sized minarets was removed from the design to emphasize and bring attention to the mosque’s core construction. To frame the central dome, four similar minarets were planted at each corner of the marble courtyard. The mosque’s interior attracted a lot of attention for its clean, simple lines throughout the building. The sultans were reminded to constantly give a humble and devoted heart to connect and converse with God by the basic symmetrical interiors, which contrasted with the massive exteriors announcing the Ottoman Empire’s wealth and might.
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
Yusef Abdelki, the mosque’s architect, was inspired by a variety of sources, including the Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque in Alexandria, constructed by Mario Rossi in the 1920s; the Badshahi Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan; and other Persian, Mughal, and Indo-Islamic architecture influences. The Badshahi Mosque provided inspiration for the mosque’s dome layout and design. Its minarets are typically Arab, and its archways are quintessentially Moorish. The mosque’s objective, as commissioned by the UAE’s late president, was to merge traditional values, architecture, and design with modern ones. The colossal temple truly brings the entire globe together, as its building materials came from all over the world, including non-Islamic countries.
Ibrahim-al-Ibrahim Mosque in Gibraltar
It is considered to be the world’s largest mosque not situated in an Islam country. The mosque appears to be plain and boring at first glance, yet the design is intricate and well-thought-out. Six classrooms, a conference hall, a library, a kitchen, a restroom, caretaker housing, a mortuary, administrative offices, and the Imam’s residence are all on the first level. The primary prayer space is located on the building’s second story. When approaching the prayer area, you can’t miss the nine solid brass chandeliers that hang from the ceiling. One of the chandeliers is suspended from the colossal dome, which stands at a dizzying height. The mosque’s walls are made of imported marble that stretches the length of the building.