Mosques in the Middle East never cease to fascinate me. While I am a Christian myself, there is always certain aura about any religious site that gets me down to the bone. The energy is almost inappropriately seductive. Their architecture is simply a feast to the eyes. While cathedrals have their own charm, mosques in the Middle East have the arches and Arab calligraphy that simply beat their Christian counterparts in my eyes. And so today, I decided to post a little photo essay of my favorite mosques in the Middle East.
Abu Darwish Mosque, Jordan
When it comes to mosques in the Middle East, Abu Darwish is one that definitely stands out. The checkered holy beauty is unlike any other mosque I’ve ever seen. Located in the Jordanian capital of Amman, it is “a symbol of Amman’s diverse heritage,” according to The Jordan Times. How so? The project was paid for by Jordanians; its design is an example of Syrian architecture; and it was built by Palestinians living on a village nearby the Holy City of Jerusalem. Comprised of two halls, Abu Darwish Mosque can house around 2,400 worshipers total at any given time and its library has a collection of over 3,000 books.
Mohamed Ali Mosque, Egypt
Known as the City of a Thousand Minarets, Cairo has several mosques worth mentioning. However, for space’s sake, I must highlight Egypt’s most iconic: The Mohamed Ali Mosque. Protected by Cairo’s Saladin Citadel, it can be seen from several spots in the capital, most notably from Al-Azhar Park. It was built in in the 19th century, being the largest of its time for about 50 years.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque, UAE
Even though I have previously featured its 82 Domes of Holiness in detail, Sheikh Zayed still deserves a mention on this post. Not only is it the third largest in the world, but arguably one of the most beautiful mosques in the Middle East. Moreover, it houses seven German chandeliers, which contain millions of Swarovski crystals, in addition to the world’s largest carpet, measuring an astounding 5,627 m2 (60,570 sq ft) and 2,268,000,000 knots!
Hagia Sophia, Turkey
The Hagia Sophia does not need an introduction: It is more than an icon among mosques in the Middle East. Dominating Istanbul’s skyline, Sophia (meaning “wisdom” in Greek) has gone from cathedral to mosque to secularized museum between 360 and 1935. It is considered to have “changed the history of architecture” (Simons, Marlise – NY Times, 1993).