My Favorite 3 Mosques

I first started to appreciate Islamic culture while visiting Spain’s famous Alhambra – full or Moorish influence. But there’s no better representation of beautiful Arab architecture then some of Islam’s most sacred places of worship: Mosques.

Here’re 3 of my favorites:

Istanbul’s Blue Mosque

I visited Turkey’s Blue Mosque quite some time ago, but it has left an indelible impression. The Sultan Ahmed Mosque was nicknamed the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles adorning the interior walls. The 20,000 tiles are handmade and feature more than 50 tulip designs.

Built in 1616, the Blue Mosque is considered an excellent example of Ottoman and Byzantine influences. Its sister structure, the Hagia Sophia, is also known for its Islamic architecture. Ever colorful, originally the mosque’s upper level was painted blue and featured 200 stained glass windows, given as a gift by the Signoria of Venice.

The floors are covered with carpets donated by the faithful and replaced as they wear thin. And there were once lamps covered in gold and gems, as well as glass bowls holding ostrich eggs and crystal balls. Cool!

Abu Dhabi’s Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

In May I paid my first visit to the UAE’s capital city of Abu Dhabi, home of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. The mosque can hold more than 40,000 worshippers (the female prayer room holds 1,500 women during prayer).

The interior courtyard has an intricate flower motif and is the largest marble mosaic in the world at more than 17,000 square meters (180,000 sq ft). There are 96 marbles columns inside the mosque which feature unique mother-of-pearl inlay.

The carpet of the main prayer hall is considered the largest carpet in the world and was made by hand by more than 1,200 Persian carpet knotters. Taking over 2 years to complete, the carpet has more than 2.2 million knots. The mosque also features three types of Arabic calligraphy inscribing the 99 names of Allah on the interior walls.

Morocco’s Hassan II Mosque

Back in 2009, my friend Camille’s family living gave me a personal tour of this Casablanca landmark. Hassan II is the largest mosque in Morocco and the second largest in the world (after the Grand Mosque of Mecca). Its minaret stands as the world’s tallest at 210 meters (689 feet).

Hassan II holds more than 25,000 faithful, with room for another 80,000 in the adjacent grounds. The mosque is built on reclaimed land, with nearly half of the structure built over the Atlantic Ocean, inspired a verse in the Qur’an that states “the throne of Allah was built on water.”

Hassan II was completed in 1993, after 6 years of construction by 10,000 artists (more than 6,000 of which were traditional Moroccan artisans). The beautiful interior stands as an amazing example of Moorish mosaics, stone and wood carvings.

Visit a mosque recently? Where you inspired by its beauty? Tell us about it!

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This entry was posted on Wednesday, September 7th, 2011 and is filed under Arab Region, Travel Favorites, Travel Favorites.

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