The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – مسجد شیخ لطف الله

The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Esfahan, Iran

The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Esfahan is an impressive piece of architecture. Located on the Nasqh-e Jahan Square, the mosque is something not to be missed. Built between 1602 and 1619 during the reign of Shah Abbas I, it was later given to the ruler’s father-in-law, Sheikh Lotfollah, a scholar of Islam from Lebanon.

The mosque has stairs which lead up to its grand and majestic entrance. The entry gateway was a recessed half-moon and is constructed of marble. The calligraphy around the mosque is wonderful, being overseen by the Master calligrapher Ali Reza Abbasi. Outside the mosque, you can glance at the beautiful mosaics and the complex designs on the walls of the building. It is fascinating and incredibly overwhelming. Inside the mosque is just as striking.

One of the incredible characteristics of the mosque is the peacock at the centre of its dome. Standing at the entrance gate of the inner hall and looking at the centre of the dome, you can see the peacock’s tail in the rays of sunlight from the hole in the ceiling. It is cleverly designed and a well-known feature of the mosque. Cream-coloured tiles have also been used on the dome which change colour from cream to pink throughout the day, whilst the blue and turquoise tiles are displayed on the dome’s summit.
The pale colours of the cupola are in great contrast to those around the portal. Here you will find some of the best surviving Safavid-era mosaics. There are graceful floral designs on show revealing great arabesques and exceptional muqarnas.

The Sheikh Loftallah Mosque
The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

It is unusual that the mosque doesn’t have a minaret or a courtyard, this is supposedly due to the fact that the mosque was never intended for public use. It was intended to be a private mosque of the royal court. The prayer hall is also accessed by a twisting hallway which is unique and essential to the design and function of the mosque. It takes you away from a busy square to a prayer room with an evidently different and more tranquil atmosphere.

Inside you can wonder at the ever so beautiful tile work of paler colours of yellow and admire the complexity of the design. With the sunlight beaming through the highly placed windows of the mosque, there is always a play with light and shadow in the space, which adds to the beauty of the building.

The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is my favourite piece of architecture in Iran. The sheer beauty of this space is something to not be missed at all. This, in my opinion, is the top spot in the city and one of the must-see places in the country and is certainly something anyone should visit, tourist or local. Cliché as it may sound, but the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is a masterpiece. It is an incredibly exceptional building that is certainly worth every effort to go and see.

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