Distinctive Features of Architectural Elements of Iranian Mosques (part II)
The mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah in Isfahan is a good example of the Isfahan style of the Safavid era. It was built by order of Shah Abbas Safavid during the first half of the 17th century.
Among these, three mosques belonging to different historical periods are particularly noteworthy: the Jameh Mosque of Isfahan (khorassani style of the Seljuk era), the Goharshad Mosque (Azeri style of the Timurid era) and the Sheikh Mosque. Lotfollah (Isfahani style of the Safavid era).
The Jameh Mosque of Isfahan was built in the 11th century by Turkish-speaking tribes from Central Asia who migrated to the Iranian plateau, Transoxiana and Asia Minor. The artistic splendor of this period is due in particular to the peace that reigned during the time of the Seljuks, and gave birth to important works of art, including this mosque. This building is considered the oldest monument in the city. Its current facade dates back to the Seljuk era, but the mosque has undergone further extensions and renovations in subsequent eras, especially during the Safavid era. There are several entrances that connect the main courtyard to the surrounding areas and whose construction technique shows that they were built at different times. This mosque is built on a cloister with four khorassani bastions. The four cloisters named Soffeh Darvish, Soffeh Ostad, Soffeh Shagerd and Soffeh Saheb, give a clean Persian touch to the building. The inner surface of the mosque, as well as minarets and tiles date back to the 15th century. The main parts of the mosque, such as shabestan, circular pillars, cornices, etc., were built under the orders of Nezam-ol-molk (vizier of the Seljuk sultans Alp Arsalan and Malik Shah), and a physiognomy peculiar to the building.
The cloister with the brick dome and the roof decorated in muqarnas was built in the 12th century. Another remarkable dome was built in 1060 at the time of Taj-ol-Molouk, another Seljuk vizier, and rather looks like a temple of fire. It is located in the northern part of the mosque courtyard in front of Khajeh Nezam-ol-Molk dome. The mosque includes a total of nine mihrabs and two minarets (around the Southern Cloister). According to historians, there were two other minarets on the north side, which are however totally destroyed today. The most beautiful pulpit incrusted among those existing in Iran is in this mosque.
The mosque of Goharshad in Mashhad is mainly inspired by the Azeri style, and its construction goes back to the Timurid era. During the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, Iran was twice attacked by the Mongols. The invasion of Tamerlane in the fourteenth century was particularly destructive. After his death, his son Shāhrokh, an art and religious lover, supported the development of religious architectural works of art in Iran. The Goharshad Mosque is part of this historical and artistic complex. Created by order of the king's wife in the early fifteenth century south of the sacred shrine of Imam Reza, it was mainly built from bricks and plaster in an oriental architectural style. With its vast peripheral zone, its seven gateways leading to the sacred sanctuary, and its four grandiose cloisters centered on the four cardinal points, this impressive structure is one of the jewels of this sanctuary. The turquoise tile dome has a height of 40 meters and a diameter of 10 meters. It is built on a cylindrical space of low height and its main part, thick and ventricular, has a beautiful hemispherical shape. The tile around the dome is turquoise seamless tile. Another shallow cloister is covered with white tiles on a yellow background and decorated with kufic calligraphy. The borders of the dome are decorated with drawings and covered with bricks and ceramics.
The mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah in Isfahan is a good example of the Isfahan style of the Safavid era. It was built by order of Shah Abbas Safavid during the first half of the 17th century. She is hyponym of a Lebanese religious scientist who came to Iran and became the father-in-law of Shah Abbas. The king ordered a redevelopment of the building into a place of prayer and retreat as well as a school, just in front of the entrance to Naghsh-e Jahan Square and in front of Ali Qapu's Palace. It is unique in the shape of its dome and its tiles. Although the construction of the mosque stretches east, its wall, viewed from the outside, is oriented towards the north and the altar is built towards Mecca. Its outer shape has no sign of inclination or angle. The dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the few single-covered domes of the Safavids. The dark-blue decorative patterns next to the cream color of the background and white tiles are one of the peculiarities of this mosque. The side walls of the courtyard are embellished with blue and include flowers, bushes and cream writing. Inside, the decorations include large golden yellow stars covered with intertwined borders. This mosque is unique because it has no minaret, and its dome and two roofs are monolithic. It is small, and houses a small oratory.
In general, the pre-Islamic style has greatly influenced the architecture of mosques in Iran. The shape and function of the minaret, dome and porch are closely related to the Achaemenid, Parthian and Sassanid architectures. Everything is geared towards creating an area of peace and silence to turn attention primarily to God. Flowers, plants and birds alone are represented, excluding prophets and any human figure. From a historical point of view, the mosques in the Seljuk style resembled that of the Arabs, simple and decorated in bricks, the timurid mosque, was known for its size, its resistance and its varied colors, and finally the Safavid mosque marks the heyday of ornamentation, the art of tiling and painting in Iran. Intended to create a sense of presence and reverence, it is considered one of the peaks of Persian architecture.