Esfahan’s Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is known for its defiantly off-center dome, lack of minarets, and cream-colored interior tiles that shift colors as the sun moves throughout the day. Blues and greens dominate the walls, but the most eye-catching feature is arguably the dome, which has arabesque designs that get smaller and smaller as they approach the center, making it the focal point of attention.
The site of a fire temple some 900 years ago, Jameh Mosque now comprises part of Yazd’s skyline with its twin minarets measuring 52 meters (170.6 feet). Swastikas, which symbolize infinity, timelessness, birth, and death, are hidden among “Ali” written in Kufic script. Together, they surround the mosque’s dome, covered in stars. Along with the turquoise honeycomb tiled walls, more Kufic script, and plasterwork, the art in this mosque is rather dizzying, giving visitors plenty to admire and their cameras even more to capture.
Jameh Mosque, Yazd, Iran, +98 35 3663 3896
When visitors to Shiraz step into Nasir ol-Molk Mosque, they not only step into a kaleidoscope, but they also become a part of it as the morning sunlight shines through the orosi, stained-glass windows and reflects on the visitors themselves. Known as the Pink Mosque, owing to the considerable amount of various rose-colored hues that decorate the interior, it’s arguably the most beautiful mosque in Iran and the most memorable. The stained-glass windows, mosaic walls, and carpeted floors make the entire mosque a true masterpiece of art.
Nasir ol-Molk Mosque, Lotf Ali Khan Zand St, Fars Province, Shiraz, Iran, +98 71 3224 1661
If Nasir ol-Molk is the kaleidoscope of mosques, Imam Mosque would be the jewelry box. Yellow, green, and the signature blue-colored tiles dominate the walls and ceilings of Imam Mosque in Esfahan. Revered for its Islamic calligraphy, symmetrical arcades, and lofty domes, you might need to lie down on the floor to comfortably contemplate each design lest you get neck pain. Between the grand hall proudly displaying its mosaics like a peacock spreading its wings, floral arcades, and unique designs on each dome, you’ll have a hard time picking your favorite spot.
Fatima Masumeh Shrine in Qom has some stunning patterns that will make visitors stand a while longer outside before entering. In addition to the varying geometric patterns and florals which appropriately have a feminine touch, each nook of the ceiling holds a different motif. Though Qom is not on most travelers’ itinerary, a stop at this mosque to witness the breathtaking art in a serene setting is a must.
Located to the west of Shiraz’s Vakil Bazaar, the eponymous mosque may lack the sparkle of its neighbor, Nasir ol-Molk, but it’s exactly the neutrality of the simple brick walls and ceilings that allow the mosaics to pop out even more. The courtyards, porticos, nooks, and distinguishing 48 columns of the prayer hall will also give you plenty more to explore in this delightfully understated mosque.
Vakil Mosque, Fars Province, Shiraz, Iran, +98 71 3224 1475
Located in Shiraz, Shah Cheragh gives visitors a somewhat different, yet equally exciting, experience than other mosques. This building is a mosque and tomb of twin brothers who were sons of the seventh Shia Imam. The exterior displays detailed mosaics and a blue-tiled dome and minarets, but unlike other mosques, the interior is decorated in ornate mirror work and glass shards, giving the feeling of walking inside a disco ball and making it one of the most beautiful mosques in Iran.
Shah Cheragh, District 8, Shiraz, Fars Province, Iran, +98 71 3213 1368