10 Awe-inspiring Mosques Around the World Worth Visiting

10 Awe-inspiring Mosques Around the World Worth Visiting

This article is dedicated to celebrating the Islamic architectural excellency, its cultures and histories – and to invite you to go admire them for yourself.

“The Mosque is the architecture which unites the Muslims and their efforts. It refines their souls and awakens their minds and hearts. It solves their problems. The Mosque shows their strength and cohesiveness. ” 

As one of the holiest and most beloved buildings in Islam, the mosque is the great symbol of unity and faith for the Muslim community. More commonly referred to in Arabic as masjid, the mosque also acts a venue where Muslims gather to perform prayers, seek Islamic knowledge, attend Friday sermons and Al-Quran classes, celebrate Hari Raya, as well as unite two soulmates in a marriage (Nikah).

Besides being the spiritual and communal nexus for Muslims, mosques are renowned for their exquisite architecture which combines culture and faith into a single masterpiece. Some cultures have even elevated mosque-building to an artform – some mosques are so stunning that it’s hard not to stop what you are doing and just marvel at them from a distance!

Here are 10 absolutely spectacular mosques that’ll have you gawking at them for hours:

1. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Image credit: Alex Drop

Image credit: Alex Drop

Image credit: nico_enders

The largest mosque in the UAE, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque fuses both modern and classic Islamic architectures in a symbolic theme of unity and diversity.  Shiekh Zayed Grand Mosque draws its inspiration from older, equally-famous mosques, such as the Mosque of Abu al-Abbas al-Mursi Mosque in Egypt, and Badshahi mosque in Pakistan. (And what do you know – these two mosques are also on this list!) This motif of “uniting the world” isn’t just restricted to the design of the mosque itself – the materials and artisans also hail from every corner of the world!

Fun Fact: The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque also contains the world’s largest carpet!

2. The Great Mosque of Xi’An, China

mosques around the world

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Image credit: Blazej Mrozinski

A personal favourite among all in this list, the Great Mosque of Xi’An is not only a remarkable structure in its design but also in its representation of Islamic diversity.

The Great Mosque of Xi’An was built during the Tang Dynasty, a period when Islam was introduced in China through the coming of Arabian merchants. Its early presence in history has made it the one of the most renowned and oldest mosques. The mosque is a perfect combination of Chinese architecture and Islamic art, with its oriental pavilions and courtyards decorated with Islamic inscriptions and Quran verses.

Fun Fact: Although it was built during the Tang Dynasty, several additions were made to the mosque during Song (960-1279), Yuan (1271-1638), Ming (1368-1644), and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, making it representative of the various architecture styles from different periods of time.

3. Taj Mahal, Agra, India

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Image credit: Geoff Stearns

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As one of the Seven Wonders of the World, Taj Mahal is undoubtedly the most iconic and the finest of Mughal architecture – a perfect fusion of Indian, Persian and Islamic influences! This world-renowned mosque was built by the Mughal empire in India, which ruled from the mid-16th to late 17th century. It was during the rule of the Mughals that Islamic architecture was resurrected in northern India.

Taj Mahal mostly comprises of white marble, with its interior walls in-laid with 28 kinds of rare gems and adorned in the most intricate of patterns.  The building itself is not the only exquisite thing about the entire mosque – with its impressively symmetrical garden and a sprawling pool of fountains, stepping into the mosque grounds feels very much like stepping into Eden.

Fun Fact: Due to the nature of white marble, the Taj Mahal’s colour changes according to the light and time of the day!

4. Pink Mosque (Nasir ol Molk Mosque) in Shiraz, Iran

Image credit: Matt Biddulph

 

Image credit: Jan Ottenbourg

Image credit: Julia Maudlin

From the outside, the Nasir ol Molk mosque, also know as the Pink Mosque, seems to be just another beautiful mosque in Iran, with an elegant design common among the country’s mosques. However, there is more than meets the eye for this mosque – which you will only know once you step through its graceful arches.

As you enter the building’s interior, be surprised by a kaleidoscope of colours that dance around on the floor, walls, and the ceilings of the mosque! The coloured artistry of the Nasir ol Molk mosque is influenced by the Ottomans, a powerful Turkish Empire and pioneers of Iznik pottery. 

Fun Fact: The mosque took a whopping 12 years to complete!

5. Shah Mosque, Esfahan, Iran

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Image credit: Fulvio Spada

Image credit: reibai

The epitome of Iranian Islamic and Persian architecture, Shah Mosque is decorated with blue mosaics inscribed with Islamic calligraphy and detailed stone carvings and patterns. This UNESCO World Heritage Site was featured in BBC Documentary ‘Around the World in 80 Treasures’ and has the largest dome in the entire city of Esfahan. The dome is not just for aesthetics – it magnifies the imam’s voice so much that it can be heard everywhere in the building!

Fun Fact: Shah Mosque comprises of 18 million bricks and 475,000 tiles!

6. Sultan Ahmed Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey

Image credit: Clay Gilliland

 

Image credit: Kiril Rusev

 

 

mosques around the world

Image credit: Jeremy Brooks

In the city centre of Istanbul stands Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as the Blue Mosque. Built in honour of a young Turkish King (whom the mosque is named after), the Blue mosque is a beautiful representation of classical Ottoman architecture.

With its massive structure and 6 piercing minarets, Sultan Ahmed Mosque dominates the skyline in Istanbul. The interior walls of the mosque are lined with over 20,000 Iznik tiles in traditional motifs of cypress trees, tulips and roses. The mosque also houses a madrasah (religious institution), bazaar, soup kitchen, primary school and a royal tomb, making this mosque one of its kind in Istanbul.

Fun Fact: In ancient times, the Blue Mosque competed with the Hagia Sophia for the recognition of the most magnificent building in Istanbul. At present, both are equally appreciated and cherished by all.

7. Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco

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Image credit: Anja Disseldorp

Image credit: Antony Stanley

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It is undisputed that Morocco’s best architectural wonder has to be Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca. Constructed by Moroccan stone and wood carvers, this splendorous mosque stand out from the rest of Casablanca. 

Additionally, the minaret of Hassan II Mosque is the tallest structure in Casablanca as well as the tallest minaret in the world! The mosque is also build on a platform which juts out over the Atlantic Ocean.  Interestingly, part of the mosque’s floor is made out of glass, allowing its worshippers to kneel directly over the sea.

Fun Fact: The dramatic location of Hassan II Mosque is a poetic reflection of a verse found in the Quran: “God built his throne upon the water.”

8. Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan

Image credit: Umair Khan

Image credit: Michael Foley

Image credit: Wasif Malik

Built in the image of beauty and grace, Badshahi Mosque is the major attraction in Lahore. Heavily influenced by Indo-Greek, Central Asian and Indian architecture, this mosque is covered by stone carvings with white marble inlays on red sandstone. As one of most significant accomplishments of the Mughal Empire, Badshani Mosque was also the largest mosque in the world for centuries.

Fun Fact: The mosque has the capacity of accommodating 55,000 worshippers, making it the 2nd biggest mosque in terms of capacity!

9. Mosque of Muhammad Ali, Cairo, Egypt

mosques around the world

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A masterpiece of the Turks, the Mosque of Muhammad Ali in the Citadel of Cairo has been dominating the skyline for over 150 years. This mosque blends both classic Ottoman architecture with French Rococo influence, an art style featuring elaborate ornamentation, pastel colours and curved or serpentine lines.

As you enter the mosque, look upwards at the hanging globes of lamps that resemble a constellation. Thereafter, admire the cascading domes with its exquisite designs engraved on its ceilings – the interior decoration of this mosque is unparalleled.

Fun Fact: The Mosque of Muhammad Ali is the most visited mosque in all of Egypt!

10. Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman

Image credit: Riyadh Al-Balushi

Image credit: Cazz

For one of the grandest mosques in the world, check out the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque. The mosque exudes an air of royal dignity in every detail of its modern Islamic architecture style, as befitting its stature as the main mosque in Oman.

In the center of the male prayer hall, you can spot a massive chandelier holding 600,000 Swarovski crystals and plated with pure gold. The mosque also hosts an impressive library containing a collection of over 20,000 books!  

Fun Fact: Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque has the 2nd largest hand-loomed Iranian carpet in the world. It took 600 women and 4 years to weave!

About Author

Syafiqaa
Syafiqaa

A youngling in the travelling world, Syafiqaa hopes to see more of what the world has to offer. Her soul is drawn to nature, especially the seas. Syafiqaa studies Marine Biology and is crazy in love with the sea. She has been to several places in the Southeast Asia and hopes to reach Europe someday soon.

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