Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque to be restored once again 

October 30, 2020 - 16:23

TEHRAN – Parts of the creamy dome of the 17th-century Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, a masterpiece of Iranian architecture in Isfahan, are scheduled to be restored once again as the low-quality rehabilitation works last year caused a lot of criticism by experts and authorities.

As the dome is not in a good condition now and there are some new cracks on it, it is decided to be restored once again using the expertise of top traditional restorers and academic achievements in order to salvage the monument without any damage to its glory, IRNA quoted provincial tourism chief Fereydoon Allahyari as saying on Friday.

While pictures were taken on a snowy day in Isfahan showed all parts of the dome but one covered in snow last winter, the media and experts blamed the flawed restoration work, which used modern waterproof materials that had damaged the dome’s integrity.

Restoration and preservation experts criticized local authorities for not caring enough for the architectural masterpiece which was built 400 years ago during the Safavid Empire.

Authorities at the Ministry of Cultural Heritage, Tourism and Handicrafts admitted that there should have been a fault with the restoration. Experts said the repair workers could have used hydrated construction materials that contained polymer substances. Others said cracks on the dome that have been caused by previous restoration work could be to blame.

The story, however, turned to larger fear, casting doubt over the fate of the majestic mosque and warnings over the danger of the whole collapse.

A budget of 30 billion rials (over $700,000) will be needed for the new round of the restoration project, Allahyari added.

The official announced last June that some two-eighths of delicately floral tiles, which for centuries adorned the creamy dome of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, had been restored and are ready to be reinstalled.

“This phase of the restoration project entails two-eighths of the dome’s surface (the dome has been divided into eight portions), and its associated glazed tiles have been fully restored and are ready to be reinstalled.”

In comparison to many mosques scattered across the country, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque appears to be relatively unusual, having neither a minaret nor a courtyard probably because the mosque was never intended for public use, but rather served as a worship place for women. 

Built between 1603 and 1619 during the reign of Shah Abbas I, the mosque was dedicated to the ruler’s father-in-law, Sheikh Lotfollah, a revered Lebanese scholar of Islam who was invited to Isfahan to oversee the king’s mosque (now the Imam Mosque).

The exterior panels boast collections of arabesques and floral designs that have become a signature motif of the masterpiece. The portal itself contains some stalactite-type stone carving used to decorate doorways and window recesses with rich concentrations of blue and yellow motifs. 

Inside the sanctuary, there are thousands of mosaics that adorn the walls and its extraordinarily gorgeous ceiling that features a series of shrinking, yellow motifs, itself a masterpiece of design. Photography is allowed but using a flash is not.

The huge Imam Square, best known as Naghsh-e Jahan Sq. (literary meaning “Image of the World”), is one of the largest in the world (500m by 160m), and a majestic example of town planning of the time.