With its ancient history, colorful diversity of cultures and ethnicities, and its amazing sense of adventure, the Middle East is starting to create a new image for itself—one that is not determined by the news media or political rhetoric. While there are countless monuments and places to see and experience, the mosques—both ancient and new—are truly worth visiting. Here are the most beautiful mosques in the Middle East that will take your breath away.
As a holy city for Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, Jerusalem has some of the most spiritual sites in the entire Middle East. The Dome of the Rock Mosque, located on Temple Mount in the historic Old City of Jerusalem, will leave you speechless with its golden dome, ornate blue designs, and solemnity as you ponder the strength of human spirituality.
One of Turkey’s most prized treasures, the Blue Mosque in Istanbul is the one site you have to see in your lifetime. Stretching into the sky as if to remind us all of its great Ottoman past, this mosque is made famous with its enormous halls, vastly decorated ceilings, and beautiful calls to prayer.
Visiting this mosque is like stepping back in time
Another mosque in Istanbul that brings in travelers and pilgrims from all walks of life is the Suleymaniye Mosque, which stands on top of the Third Hill of Istanbul and gives way to one of the most majestic panoramic views of the city. Stepping inside this mosque is like stepping into the past—you can almost hear the whisperings from when it was built in the Middle Ages.
Easily one of the UAE’s most visited attractions, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in the capital of Abu Dhabi will give you a glimpse into the extravagance of the Emirates. Walk through its dazzling white courtyard, gawk at its golden chandeliers sparkling with diamonds, and relax on its richly colored carpets for a mesmerizing afternoon in the UAE’s most beautiful mosque.
Although ravaged by the war in Syria, the Umayyad Mosque stands as a poignant reminder to all of the importance in protecting our world heritage sites. Its richly ornamented courtyard, breezy alleyways, and peaceful prayer hall draw both tourists and religious pilgrims alike to pay homage to one of the last remaining historic sites after the destructive war in Syria. Hopefully one day, in times of peace, this beautiful mosque will undergo restoration to return it to its former beauty and glory.
Built during the Safavid Empire’s rule in Iran, this mosque is one of the most beautiful examples in the world of Iranian craftsmanship and art. Visiting this mosque will truly leave you breathless. With its deep colors of blue and carved ceiling that seem to drift and move as if made of clouds or waves of water, this mosque is out of this world.
The beauty of this mosque almost cannot be captured on camera
Made famous by its striking panels of stained-glass windows, this mosque in the cultural heartland of Iran should be on the bucket list of any world traveler. Known as the Pink Mosque because of all the colors reflected onto the floors and walls from the windows, you’ll feel as though you have stepped into a painting or a dream.
Omanis will always be some of the friendliest people in the Arabian Peninsula
Bringing out the best of Oman, with its quiet beauty and humble traditions, the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque of Muscat is a delightful stop for anyone who wants to experience a quiet slice of Arabia away from the harsh deserts or glitzy cities. You’ll be greeted with friendly smiles and large shady areas in the courtyard, making this mosque one of those places that will always leave a warm impression on anyone who visits.
Cradled inside of the enormous Citadel of Cairo, built by the orders of Mohammad Ali Pasha, this mosque is the pride of all Egyptians. With its low-hanging glittery lamps and richly carpeted dark-red floors, you can’t help but bask in the glory of the rich culture and traditions of the ever-magical Egypt.