The exterior of the dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan from afar is charming for anyone in Naghsh Jahan Square; A combination of blue, pea and turquoise colors that give the sun a special and different beauty at any time of the day. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the historical mosques and one of the sights of Isfahan , which was built by the order of Shah Abbas during the Safavid period. It took 18 years to build. This mosque, which is included in the list of national monuments of Iran, has been named the most beautiful dome in the world.
In this article from Alibaba Tourism Magazine you are supposed to get acquainted with the masterpiece of Iranian architecture, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. Of course, you have probably heard his name a lot by now and have not seen many of his photos, but the story of this mosque is long. The beauty of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is not all that can be seen in appearance. This mosque, with the harmony of light and color, has created a dream atmosphere for every visitor.
In this article, I will talk about the history of the mosque, its unique features and the conditions of visiting it, and then in an imaginary tour, I will introduce you to the different parts of the mosque in full detail.
Where is Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque?
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the sights of Isfahan, which is located on the eastern side of Naghsh Jahan Square.
Why does Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque not have a minaret?
The minaret indicates the existence of a mosque and a place of prayer for the people, but considering that Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is a private mosque of Shah Abbas and the courtiers and was not built for the public, there is no need for He did not build a minaret.
How is light provided in Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque and what is it like?
The interior light of the mosque enters the mosque through two phenomena of light refraction through the windows of the dome, and with the limited light it creates on the tiles, the beauty of the mosque is doubled.
What is the peacock of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque?
The inner part of the dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is made in such a way that the role of a peacock can be seen in the center. Peacock feathers are formed by the entry of light rays from the dome arch on the interior of the dome and disappear as the air darkens.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque from the past to the present
During the Safavid period, Isfahan was chosen as the capital of the country. Many important historical monuments such as Naghsh Jahan Square, Imam Mosque of Isfahan , Chaharbagh Street and which are talked about today as the sights of Isfahan, were built during this period and by order of Shah Abbas.
Mark CooteSheikh Lotfollah Mosque of Isfahan is also one of these historical monuments. In the first half of the 11th century AH, Shah Abbas ordered the construction of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. You may not believe it, but the construction and completion of this mosque took 18 years. Of course, if you have seen the mosque up close, you will not be surprised to hear this number, Arthur Pope, the American historian, has stated well in one sentence:
“It is difficult to consider this work as a product of human hands.”
So with this in mind, we can justify that it took so long to build such a building. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque was built by the artist-architect, Professor Mohammad Reza Isfahani. Prior to its construction, there was another mosque on the site of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, where Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque was built on the ruins of the previous mosque.
In the past, it was called the source of imitation and the great mujtahid Sadr or Sadr al-Ulma This mosque was changed to Sadr Mosque and Mullah Fathullah Mosque, but today it is again called by the same original name.
Unfortunately, the exact details of what happened to this past mosque are not in the historical documents, and I can not give you much information except that the mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah, the private mosque of the Shah and the royal family, and ordinary people were not allowed to pass by.
According to documents written by the American Iranologist Arthur Pope, during the Pahlavi era, he announced the request for the restoration of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque to Reza Shah. After his consent, the mosque building, the original design, the entrance tiles and the dome were rebuilt. An inscription has been installed on the exterior of the dome, in which the restoration of the building was recorded in 1315 by the Archaeological Department.
Who is Sheikh Lutfullah?
During the Safavid period, many scholars migrated to Iran from different countries on the orders of Shah Abbas. Sheikh Lotfollah Jabal Ameli was also one of the famous immigrant scholars of that time and a resident of Jabal Amel in Lebanon. He first spread religious sciences in Mashhad for a while and then in Qazvin, but eventually went to Isfahan and settled there.
The Safavid government’s great attention to Islam, religion and Shi’ism had greatly elevated the status of the scholars of that time. For this reason, Shah Abbas Safavid ordered the construction of a school and a mosque named after Sheikh Lotfollah in the Sheikh’s residence. Friday prayers were led by Sheikh Lotfollah and he taught religious sciences at school. It is interesting to know that Sheikh Lotfollah was also the father of Shah Abbas Safavid’s wife.
If I want to talk in the best possible way about the amazing architecture of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, it is better to start with a few sentences written by Arthur Pope, American historian and prominent researcher of Iranian culture and architecture, about the architecture of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan. You say:
“There is not the slightest weakness in this building, the dimensions are very appropriate, the design plan is very strong and beautiful, and in short it is an agreement between a world of excitement and glorious silence and tranquility that represents the rich taste of aesthetics and a source of religious faith. And it can have no heavenly inspiration. ” 
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque of Isfahan is one of the most beautiful mosques in the world Are. The architecture of the mosque is Isfahani style, which was designed and built by Professor Mohammad Reza Isfahani. The name of this great architect is recorded on a small plate in the sanctuary of the mosque.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, in addition to its historical and religious value, is world famous for its architecture. What distinguishes this mosque from other mosques of that time is its different architectural plan and its unique tiles, mosaics and decorations. This mosque does not have a courtyard and a minaret, and the play of light and color in the interior and exterior of the dome brings many surprises. The attractions of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque are so interesting to me that I preferred to dedicate a separate section of the article to them.
Interesting facts about the mosque
As I said, one of my favorite parts about introducing Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is the explanation of its wonders, the norm-breaking used in the design of this mosque distinguishes it from other mosques of the Safavid period and all periods. So here you are and here are some interesting facts about this beautiful mosque:
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque does not have a minaret
The presence of a minaret next to the dome was one of the main pillars in the architecture of mosques, but unlike the common architecture of that time, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque was built without a minaret! There is a lot of talk about the reason for this, most of which do not have a credible source.
Perhaps the most logical reason for the lack of a minaret is the personal nature of this mosque. The minaret was usually a symbol of the mosque and the place of prayer for the people, but the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque was a special mosque for Shah Abbas and the royal family and was never used by ordinary people. For this reason, it can be said that the presence or absence of a minaret did not matter in the construction of this mosque.
Existence of stairs instead of nave
The experience that most of us have from the entrance of mosques is an entrance nave (courtyard) that leads us to the mosque building, but Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque did not follow this rule and lacks a nave.
This building was built right in front of the Aali Qapo mansion in Naghsh Jahan Square, and in order to maintain the symmetry of the square structure, it was not possible to build a front courtyard. For this reason, the entrance of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque consists of several steps that lead you to the entrance hall and finally the beautiful dome of the mosque.
Underground corridor to the mosque
You probably did not even think that you would encounter a secret underground passage in Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan! Despite the doubts of archaeologists, the available evidence indicates the existence of an underground corridor from Aali Qapo Palace to Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque.
In the past, this road was used by women and courtiers so that they did not have to cross the middle of Naghsh Jahan Square to reach the mosque. In this way, the courtiers could easily get to the mosque to ask their religious questions to Sheikh Lotfollah. Of course, I must say that there is no image of this corridor and it is claimed that the construction of Naghsh Jahan Square pond has destroyed the roof of the underground corridor.
The role of the peacock in the dome of Sheikh Lotfollah
Another violation of the norms of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is the presence of a peacock in the interior of the dome. In the past, drawing animal shapes in the mosque was not a common practice, but the role of the peacock in the dome of Sheikh Lotfollah has been created with such elegance that it has become one of the wonders of the mosque.
First of all, I must say that peacock feathers are created by the light that enters the space from the arch of the mosque, and you should not expect to see a complete role of a real peacock in your mind. Due to the importance of light in the formation of this design, it is not possible to see the peacock dome at any time of the day.
If you get a chance and in an hour Visit the mosque properly, right in the center of the interior of the dome, you will encounter a peacock shape whose feathers are made and completed with rays of light. This rare and lovable peacock rests at the highest point of the dome and only a few hours of the day, its luminous feathers flow like a cascade of light on the beautiful dome of Sheikh Lotfollah.
It is interesting to know that the peacock was one of the designs considered by architects in the Islamic and pre-Islamic eras Is. It can be said that this peacock, which is formed with rays of light, refers to goodness and virtues.
The direction of the building towards the qibla
In Iranian-Islamic architecture, the nave of the mosque is usually built in the direction of the qibla, but Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is not like this because Naghsh Jahan Square is not located in the direction of the qibla at all. The artist-architect of the mosque has used a unique solution to solve this problem. In the construction of the mosque, a corridor has been created from the entrance to under the dome. This corridor adjusts the direction of the mosque towards the qibla with one rotation at an angle of 45 degrees and another rotation at an angle of 90 degrees.
This rotation is created with such elegance in the structure of the mosque No trace of it can be seen in the exterior of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. If you look at the mosque from the outside, the appearance of the mosque is north-south, but in reality, the rotation of the corridor has caused the interior of the mosque to be located in the southwest-northeast direction.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque Inspired by Azadi Square
Hossein Amanat Artist Architect Azadi Square, Tehran , to design the gardens and flowerbeds around Azadi Tower from the interior design The dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan is inspired.
اگر با دقت به طرح داخلی گنبد نگاه کنید، متوجه طرحهای دایرهوار آن میشوید که هرچه از مرکز گنبد فاصله میگیرند بزرگتر میشوند.
اگر از نمای بالا به میدان آزادی نگاه کنید، در ساختار باغچههای اطراف میدان آزادی نیز از همین روند الهام گرفته شده است با این تفاوت که در نقش اطراف میدان آزادی به جای مدار دایرهای از مدار بیضیشکل استفاده شده است.
Patrol in different parts of the mosque
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque puts your finger in your mouth from the very beginning. Each of the different parts of the mosque, from its entrance to the altar, is considered as one of the sights of Isfahan, which have a special reputation in terms of architecture and beauty. For this reason, I thought it would be better to describe the tour of different parts of the mosque in the form of a tourist tour of the mosque. Close your eyes and enter the mosque with me.
In Naghsh Jahan Square, right in front of Aali Qapo, in the recess of the wall, the entrance of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is located. If you look at the entrance from a distance, you will see an azure frame that is more beautiful with marble stones and a wooden door made of sycamore, indeed, the entrance of such an amazing mosque must be so beautiful.
We go up four steps, the entrance space has two yellow marble platforms on both sides where many people sit and take pictures. The marble wall of the entrance of the mosque reaches almost from the ground to the waist, and then the blue sea of tiling begins. The entrance space is decorated with seven-color tiles and Mogharnas work of embossed flower and vase designs. The elegance and beauty of the moccasins are tied in azure, yellow, turquoise, white and black, and I don’t think you’ve seen anything like it.
In the middle of the entrance, an inscription made of azure mosaic tiles has been installed. This inscription is written in white third line by calligrapher Alireza Abbasi.
I know that you would like to overthrow most of the beautiful entrances of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, but time is short, it is time to slowly open this 400-year-old wooden door and step into a world of wonder. I feel like Alice in Wonderland, how about you?
From the wooden door you passed, you will reach the main entrance hall of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, which will guide you to the main nave. The length of the main corridor is about 28 meters and as I explained in the knowledge section of the mosque, it has two fractures of 45 degrees and 90 degrees to face the altar of the mosque facing the qibla. These two fractures created two screws in the corridor, which we will go through later.
After lighting the space of Naghsh Jahan Square, we suddenly enter the semi-dark space of the corridor. The corridor light is provided by the latticed windows on the right side of the corridor, and with the low light it creates, it allows us to see the beautiful corridor tiles with blue and green dancing as our eyes become accustomed to the dim light. .
A few steps along the corridor we reach the first turn (the same turn at a 45 degree angle), from here if you look to the left, your eye will fall on the winter nave which does not have many decorations. When you have walked 14 meters along the corridor, or if I want to say better, the middle of the corridor, we will reach the second turn (90 degree turn towards the qibla) and we will turn to the right and move towards the main nave.
The appearance of the corridor, its slight light and silence, gives you a spiritual atmosphere and peace of mind that leaves no trace of the vibrancy of life and everyday thoughts and fantasies in the mind. This tranquility is the prelude to the great tranquility of the interior of the mosque, so if you are ready, go ahead!
Watching the central nave or the main nave of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, which is located right at the end of the corridor, separates your legs from the ground and easily takes you to the flight. The nave is built in a square space with a side of 19 meters, the walls of which take an octagonal shape as they move upwards from the ground, until this octagon becomes a complete circle from the stem of the dome onwards. This deformation from square to circle is one of the unique features of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan, which is borrowed from Sassanid architecture.
The huge dome of the mosque stands on eight legs with the help of 8 large truncated arches that divide the space of the central nave into eight parts. The arches of the nave are decorated with geometric patterns, seven-color tiles, mosaics, and intertwined floral and plant designs. The combination of geometric lines and blue, yellow and turquoise colors with light that sneaks into the nave from the pores around the dome, will be a special and unforgettable image for any tourist.
One of the special features of the interior decoration of the nave is the tiled edges of the arches, which are more beautiful than imagined, along with the masonry under the truncated arch.
The altar of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan is one of the architectural masterpieces of mosques, which is unlike any other altar with its delicate tiling and mosaic work. The upper part of the altar is a serrated arch which is decorated with a delicate Islamic motif.
Inside the altar, there is a special attraction with Mogharnas oysters and the role of flowers and plants. Perhaps the reason for this attraction is the special and uniform colors of the altar and the harmony of the lines and patterns of its interior space. It is interesting to know that in the structure of the interior space of the altar, there are two tablets in which the name of the architect of the mosque is mentioned: “The poor humble deed in need of God’s mercy”
Around the altar you will see azure calligraphic inscriptions, one of which is in the handwriting of Alireza Abbasi and a narration of the Prophet and the sixth Imam, and the other inscription is a poem attributed to Sheikh Baha’i written by the anonymous calligrapher of the Safavid era, Baqir Bana.
The inscription on the front door
In general, the inscriptions used in the construction of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque include the entrance inscription that we introduced to you at the entrance of the mosque, and the other inscription includes two inscriptions that are located in the inner belt of the dome. These inscriptions were written by one of the most famous trinity writers of the Safavid period, Alireza Abbasi, which includes the etiquette of entering the mosque and verses from Surahs Jumu’ah and Nasr.
The dome of the mosque, a dome that will never be forgotten
The dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the sights of Isfahan and the most circular dome in the world, which is the last hit for any tourist to visit in Wonderland. Alice has reached the end of her path. In the middle of the nave, stand just below the large dome of the mosque, raise your head. Ever been confused by the sheer volume of beauty in your head?
The dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is made in two shells, ie the inner shell is in the role of a bearer and the second shell is the exterior of the dome, which is exposed to climate change. The opening of the dome is about 120 meters and its height from the ground is 32 meters. If we want to compare this height with other important mosques, it is not considered very high.
When the ratio of the size of the dome opening to its height is low, the term (dormant dome) is used. The construction of such mosques has been considered a very difficult task due to the construction tricks of the past. One of the techniques used to build a dome of this size was to mount it on thick walls that could support its weight. Some parts of the wall reach up to two meters!
The interior of the dome
The mosaic tiles of the interior of the dome on one side, the rays of sunlight that make its design even more amazing, on the other side! It is interesting to know that if the height of the dome was higher than the current size, the sunlight would not penetrate into the interior of the mosque.
If I want to describe the design inside the dome, it is better to visualize it from the bottom up. The stem of the dome, with its tiles and floral and plant designs, has a pleasant blue color, which is decorated with two national inscriptions in the line of Reza Abbasi. In these inscriptions, the manners of entering the mosque have been mentioned in the language of the Prophet and some of the verses of Surahs Jumu’ah and Nasr have been written.
Between the two inscription belts, there is a space in which there are 16 lattice windows that direct light into the interior space. After the inscription belt, 32 rhombus-shaped designs are engraved around the dome, which get smaller and smaller as we get closer to the center of the dome, until they finally reach the peacock in the middle of the dome. This plan is the same plan that inspired the space around Azadi Square and I will talk about it.
If I want to talk about the game of numbers in the construction of the dome, I must say that the space of the nave is a quadrilateral, which has become octagonal as it goes up. The octagon is divided into 16 windows, and eventually these windows reach 32 rhombic figures, and this path continues until reaching the peacock in the center of the dome.
Exterior view of the dome
One of the remarkable features of the exterior of the dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is its color change during the day and at the angle at which the sun shines. If you look at it at dawn, it looks pink, at noon it is creamy, and at sunset it has a brick-like atmosphere. The whole body of the dome is decorated with mosaic tiles. In the lower belt, there is an azure mosaic inscription in the third line, on which verses from Surah Shams, Dahr and Kowsar are recorded.
The highest point of the dome is an octagonal star made of mosaic tiles with a pea-colored cap on the top. This cap is one of the unique features of the dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque.
Beautiful play of light and color in the mosque space
I think before I talk about the play of light and color in the mosque, I should talk a little about the two elements of color and light. Light and color are elements in architecture that evoke the viewer’s sense and appear in various forms. In fact, color is the decomposed state of light.
As you have seen so far, Iranian artists have used these two very clever elements in the construction of important buildings. The allegory of light has a long history in the beliefs of the Iranian people, and in addition, the use of some colors and shapes in architecture is a reminder and symbol of things that awaken in the viewer’s subconscious, such as blue, white and yellow is a symbol of sky, water and earth to watch. It instills a sense of calm and spirituality in the person.
Now it is time to say what is happening in Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. As I explained in the interior of the dome, the dome of the mosque is located on eight truncated arches with 16 latticed windows on top of the arches. These windows are not ordinary windows, but have a pair of grids, a grid from the inside and a sun from the outside, which are placed next to each other in the form of an Islamic role.
Sunlight passing through this window is refracted in two stages and is indirectly directed to the interior of the dome, making the colors of the tiles dance. Naturally, more light could enter the mosque space, but the evidence shows that the mosque designer intended to create a spiritual and beautiful space by restricting the incoming light.
“The architect has made the space dynamic by radiating light to the space of the dome and creating a connection between the outside and inside space with darkness and light, tiling and the use of color in the architecture. Lajevardi revives the attainment of spirituality and intellect and is reminiscent of eternal memories of truth and the like world. Yellow is a symbol of wisdom and love, these two colors give way to turquoise and pea on the way to the dome. Turquoise deeper than azure and a symbol of joy and contentment of the Lord and pea is a symbol of humility. “Eventually, these colors turn white in the center of the dome, which is an allegory of unity and pure light.”
Among the Iranian mosques, the one built under the influence of these fundamental ideas is the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan. Playing with light in the architectural body of this mosque is not only to create light, but also to create and manifest the truth of existence and to arouse emotions and create a sense of spirituality in the hearts of human beings. The beautiful rays of light through the skylights create shadows of lights that make the space clear and weightless and create a glow in the heart of every tourist.
What is the story of the restoration of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque?
One of the important issues that has been raised in recent years in relation to the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan is the issue of restoring the dome of this ancient monument, which has faced much criticism. These criticisms include the protrusion of some parts and the use of parts with different colors. Of course, after a while, cracks have appeared on the surface of the dome.
Mehdi Rezayat, the contractor of the restoration project, has defended himself against the criticism, stating that the color contrast of the repaired parts will be cleared by rain, and gradually, after several rains, the particles on the tiles will be washed and their paint will be shiny. But this explanation has not been acceptable to many restoration professionals.
The best time to visit the mosque
Due to the fact that Isfahan is located in a desert and arid region, the best time to visit this city in terms of climate is from the end of March to the end of May and from the end of September to October. In this period, Isfahan has a temperate climate and you can enjoy the pleasant weather in Naghsh Jahan Square.
Another factor to consider when visiting the sights of Isfahan, including the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, is the crowded or secluded state of the sights. Note that the Nowruz holiday is the busiest time possible in Isfahan, but from the second half of April onwards, the city will be more secluded and the prices of hotels and accommodations will decrease. Therefore, if the privacy of the city and travel expenses are important to you, it is better not to choose the Nowruz holiday to travel to Isfahan.
Mosque activity hours
Visiting time of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque in Isfahan in the first half of the year is from 9 am to 12:30 and 14 to 17 and in the second half of the year from 9 to 11:30 and 13 to 16:30.
It is possible to visit Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on all days except during noon prayers, Fridays during Friday prayers, days of mourning and i’tikaaf.
Where is Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque?
Address of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque: Isfahan, East Side of Naghsh Jahan Square, in front of Aali Qapo Palace
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on Google Map
What is the access route to the mosque?
To visit Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, you can use private car and public transport such as bus and subway.
If you intend to use the bus, it is better to take the buses that stop in Imam Hossein Square. Imam Hossein Square station is located a short distance from Naghsh Jahan Square. Another bus stop near the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, which has access to the mosque entrance, is the Sun Hospital station.
If you use the subway to visit the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, you must get off at the Imam Hussein Square subway station and take a taxi or on foot to the mosque.
If you use a personal car, it is better to get help from the location of the mosque on Google Maps to find the route more easily, but note that the car park may be a long distance from Naghsh Jahan Square and be careful to walk along the route.
A ticket for the harmony of light and color in Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, please!
There are many reasons why the memory we made together is not erased. You trusted my eyes and I continued this journey in Wonderland with your encouragement. We saw one of the most beautiful domes in the world, and we witnessed the combination of color and light in the unique architecture of the Safavid era. It is time to prepare your ticket for the trip to Isfahan, life is too short to be satisfied with the beautiful mosque of Sheikh Lotfollah!