TEHRAN – Isfahan’s UNESCO-listed Jameh Mosque is a museum of architectural styles from different periods, Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts Minister Ezatollah Zarghami has said.
He made the remarks during a visit to the World Heritage Site on Friday in the heart of the historic texture of the central city of Isfahan.
Going around the mosque is like exploring a museum of Iranian architecture, the minister added.
This structure is such an encyclopedia with more than one thousand three hundred years of history, he noted.
This masterpiece shows the exaptation abilities and artistic tastes of our ancestors, he explained.
The Jameh Mosque of Isfahan, also known as the Atiq Mosque and the Friday Mosque, is the oldest preserved building of its type in Iran and a prototype for later mosque designs throughout Central Asia.
According to UNESCO, the mosque can be considered an amazing illustration of the evolution of mosque architecture over twelve centuries.
The complex, which spans over 20,000 square meters, is also the first Islamic building that adapted the four-courtyard layout of Sasanian palaces to Islamic religious architecture.
Its ribbed, double-shelled domes represent an architectural innovation that has inspired builders across the region. The site also presents remarkable decorative details representative of the stylistic evolution of more than a thousand years of Islamic art.
Throughout history, the mosque complex evolved into its current state as extensions were added. Therefore, this building cannot be attributed to any particular historical era.
The central structure of the mosque dates back to pre-Islamic Iran, according to archaeological excavations and historical records. It is said that the building was first built as a fire temple and was used to perform religious rituals. This hypothesis was confirmed by the discovery of a column torus engraved with Sassanid motifs.
However, the remains of the Seljuk era (1037-1194), in particular the key elements of the ground plan, the four iwans (porches) and the two domes are sufficient to illustrate the progress in the architecture of the mosques and domes made at the time.
Steeped in a rich history and culture, Isfahan was once a hub of international trade and diplomacy in Iran. Today, it is one of Iran’s top tourist destinations for good reason. The ancient city is full of many architectural marvels such as unparalleled Islamic buildings, bazaars, museums, Persian gardens and tree-lined boulevards. It is a city for strolling, getting lost in its labyrinthine bazaars, dozing in beautiful gardens and meeting people.
The city has long been nicknamed Nesf-e-Jahan which translates to “half of the world”; which means seeing it is relevant to seeing the whole world. At its height, it was also one of the largest cities in the region with a population of nearly one million.