Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque (Isfahan, Iran)
A mosque exclusive to WOMEN! Admire the UNESCO world heritage site, Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on the eastern side of Naqsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan. The mosque expresses the architectural brilliance of the Safavid Empire (1501-1722). What does a splendid mosque for women tell us about the women’s situation 400 years ago? Stick with me, I will take you through the history.
- 1 Why Visit Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque?
- 2 A Narrative of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
- 3 A Female Mosque, A Masculine Name – Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
- 4 Women’s Role in Safavid Empire
- 5 The Distinct Architecture of A Female Mosque – Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
- 6 Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – The Story of Missing Minarets
- 7 A Royal Link via An Underground Tunnel
- 8 Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – The Blue Entrance Portal
- 9 Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – The Dark Hallways Leading to the Light
- 10 Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – The Rare Peacock Dancing With the Light
- 11 More about Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
- 12 Like to pay a visit to Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque?
- 13 Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque Tour
- 14 Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on Map
Why Visit Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque?
- An admirable UNESCO world heritage site
- A dazzling motif of a peacock on the interior dome of the mosque
- Amazing muqarnas design above the entrance portal
- One of the few single-layered domes of Safavid architecture
- Astonishing tile work with arabesque motifs
- The first Safavid structure built in Naqshe Jahan Square
A Narrative of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
About 400 years ago, the Safavid king, Shah Abbas I, ordered a mosque for royal ladies. The construction of the mosque took 16 years. The peace and architecture of the construction, made Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque a primary refuge for royal ladies. They could practice their religion along with other female practitioners. The mosque was also a great spot for royal women to socialize and share Islamic doctrines with each other. Thus, they could remain religiously as well as socially active.
A Female Mosque, A Masculine Name – Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Shah Abbas primarily intended to provide the royal ladies including his wife with a mosque. However, the mosque features a male name, that is, Sheikh Lotfollah. But how come a female mosque has a male name? The story goes that Shah Abbas dedicated the mosque to his father-in-law, Sheikh Lotfollah, who was a Muslim intellectual. This dedication would be a sign of king’s respect to this prominent Muslim scholar.
Women’s Role in Safavid Empire
Women enjoyed a relative high standing in the Safavid traditions in the sixteenth century. In fact, women could occupy high political positions. Safavid women also participated in public ceremonies and processions. Occasionally, their marriages, were intended as a means to secure partnerships and alliances or strengthen bonds with foreign and local authorities. Surprisingly, certain women could supersede traditional boundaries and assume crucial roles of leadership 400 years ago. Additionally, young female noblewomen had education and training opportunities at that time.
The Distinct Architecture of A Female Mosque – Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Since Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque was a private mosque meant for the Safavid royal women, it enjoys a particular architecture. On your journey in Naqsh-e Jahan Square face South to see Shah Mosque. Then turn your face to the East to fabulous Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, the art of the architect, Mohammad Reza Isfahani. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is smaller in size than Shah Mosque. It also has no courtyards. The minarets are also missing in the architecture of the mosque. The staircase leading to an elevated platform is yet another distinctive architectural feature of Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – The Story of Missing Minarets
No wonder! Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque was not a mosque open to public. Since it was a private mosque, it did not need to align with all the Islamic architectural standards. Minarets were tall constructions from where the responsible person for the call to the prayer (Adhan) would recite it three times a day to announce the prayer time publicly. Hence, minarets were regarded as unnecessary architectural elements in a private mosque like Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque.
A Royal Link via An Underground Tunnel
The Safavid king, Shah Abbas I, provided the highest possible security to protect the royal ladies while they commuted between the palace and the mosque. He ordered an underground tunnel which connected Ali Qapu Palace to Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. Thus, the royal women did not have to pass through the busy Naqshe Jahan Square, packed with a large number of local and foreign people. This safe approach, in addition to the assigned guards brought about total safety to the Safavid noblewomen.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – The Blue Entrance Portal
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque astonishes visitors with its architectural brilliance right from the beginning. The portal Iwan is subtly adorned with stunning blue mosaics. Also, several fantastic ancient style windows surround the portal Iwan. Equally, the muqarnas patterns, hanging down the Iwan’s arch in the shape of stalactites, contribute to the artistic beauty of the entrance portal.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – The Dark Hallways Leading to the Light
As you walk up the main entrance steps, you realize that the mosque is built on an elevated platform. Passing through the passageway that links the entrance portico and the glamorous prayer’s chamber, you will gradually dive into the darkness before the light shines over you.
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque – The Rare Peacock Dancing With the Light
Your journey ends in a thrilling peaceful chamber, which you can barely leave. Stand or even lie in the middle of the chamber under the dome. Satisfaction guaranteed! The peacock glamorously adorning the interior of the dome will charm you with its blue lemon-shaped tail bouncing with the light. Immerse yourself fully in joy by watching the wide open tail of the peacock shining with the mid-day sunlight.
More about Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
In spring and summer from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.
In fall and winter from 9 a.m. to 11:30 p.m. and from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m.
All days except the religious mourning holidays.
Attractions Near Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Being in the Naqshe Jahan square gives you access to plenty of marvellous tourist attractions. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Grand Bazar, and Ali Qapu Imperial Palace, in addition to Sio Se Pol and Khaju Bridge are some fine examples. Furthermore, Chehel Sotun Palace and Hasht Behesht edifice are worth visiting.
Restaurants Near Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Naqshe Jahan Restaurant
Hermes Café Restaurant
Like to pay a visit to Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque?
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque on Map
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