Imam Mosque: Elegant, iconic and visually stunning

September 4, 2018

With its perfect proportions and iconic blue-tiled mosaics, the Imam Mosque forms an elegant, visually stunning historical monument, which stands tall at the southern side of a massive square of the same name; the UNESCO-registered Imam Square of Isfahan in central Iran.

Visitors to the mosque are mainly overwhelmed with good views of the main dome with its glorious profusion of turquoise-shaded tiles.

Originally named Masjed Shah (“the Shah Mosque”), its construction began in 1611 during the rule of the Safavid King Shah Abbas the Great who reigned from 1588 to 1629. The mosque’s topmost dome was completed in the last year of his sovereignty.

A very picturesque huge entrance portal welcomes people to the mosque. It is built to face the square though the mosque is oriented towards Mecca. A short corridor connects the square to the inner courtyard that is surrounded by four imposing iwans (porticos) with a pool dedicated to ritual ablutions nesting in the middle.

The walls of the courtyard feature sunken porches framed by seven-colored tiles of deep blue and yellow. Each iwan leads into a vaulted sanctuary covered with particularly fine floral motifs on a blue background.

Many believe each of the mosque’s parts is a masterpiece that leaves a lasting impression. This palace of devotion owes its splendor mostly due to being covered with seven-color mosaic tiles and symmetrical calligraphic inscriptions.

On other side of the square stands the very delicate Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque which was dedicated the ruler’s father-in-law, Sheikh Lotfollah, a revered Lebanese scholar of Islam who was invited to oversee construction of the Shah Mosque.

Imam Mosque boasts glorious profusion of turquoise-shaded tiles.

Isfahan is Iran’s top tourist destination for good reasons. Its profusion of tree-lined boulevards, Persian gardens and important Islamic buildings gives it a visual appeal unmatched by any other Iranian city. In addition, Isfahan’s many artisans underpin its reputation as a living museum of traditional culture.

Under tourists’ eyes

Here is a select of comments that visitors to the mosque have posted to TripAdvisor, one of the most popular travel websites in the world:

“Beautiful mosque”

This mosque an architectural masterpiece. The entrance to the mosque is not direct, but through an offset vestibule, with the effect that the grant interior courtyard opens up all at once as you turn the corner. Grand in scale. (Peter K. from Sydney, Australia; Reviewed in July 2018)

“A lesson in preservation”

At the end of the main square stands this big mosque, which is not only impressive because of its sheer size and incredible decorations, but also helps to get a good impression of the needs and challenges of always on-going restoration works. The craftsmanship continues and is amazing! (robert_bos53 from Geneva, Switzerland; Reviewed June 2018)

“Stunning mosque on Imam Square”

Initially, this mosque was closed as it was a public holiday. We could only see the outside entrance way, which itself was beautiful with ornate tiles and Quranic script. We came back later in the day and the mosque had been opened. We walked inside to find that the same detail and beauty existed throughout the mosque. The exquisite artwork on the walls and ceilings, covering the domes and also the minarets was breathtaking. Much of the internal courtyard was fenced off, but this did not matter as plenty of the mosque was still observable. Truly magnificent! (R0hanL from Amman Governorate, Jordan; Reviewed June 2018)

“Grand and impressive”

This is such an impressive, grand and large mosque complex. It is vast in size/scale and very beautiful. It is also very different to the much smaller Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque which is nearby (also off the main square), so you should definitely visit both mosques, one will not suffice!

When I visited, I found in one of the courtyards there was a "Free Friendly Talks" stand with seating where visitors are able to speak with mosque staff, volunteers and clerics. I had a lovely talk with a very kind and informative gentleman who was eager to answer any questions and also provided me with yummy sweets while we chatted. Our conversation was one of mutual sharing and education, rather than any attempt at conversion. I came away feeling I had learnt more about the lovely local people, their culture and their faith and had also made friends. (NatashaC33 from Melbourne, Australia; Reviewed June 2018) 

“Come early"

Very beautiful mosque... Amazing mosaic tiles on all 4 Iwans.. For nice shots come very early before the tours and school trips arrive. (JD. D. from Prague, Czech Republic; Reviewed May 2018)

“Amazing!”

The symbol of Isfahan - this is an impressive mosque from outside and inside! So many great details, so many small rooms to discover and enjoy. Looks good during the day and in the evening. I guess everyone will see/visit it while in Isfahan. (Bob R. from Nis, Serbia; Reviewed April 2018)

AFM/MG

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