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The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque

The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the greatest works of Iranian architecture, located in the eastern side of the Imam (Naqsh-e-Jahan) Square in Isfahan.

Its beautiful dome attracts the attention of any viewer, due to its enormous size, bright and beautiful tile-work. The construction of the mosque began by the order of Shah Abbas I, in 1590, and was completed in 1608. The Mosque was named after Sheikh Lotfollah who was from Jabal-Amel, Lebanon.

Sheikh Lotfollah was asked to move to Isfahan at the order of Shah Abbas, and engaged in teaching in this Mosque.

The Mosque has been constructed 6-stone-steps above the ground; the portal's tile-work and the entrance's facade have been entirely decorated with glazed tiles. The inscription on the portal, which gives the name of Shah Abbas I in the date 1102 AH. (= 1590 A.D.), has been written by the famous artist and calligrapher of the Safavid Era, Alireza Abbasi.

The difference in the direction of the Mosque toward the Qibla, has been adjusted by constructing a corridor from the entrance of the Mosque, turning to the left, and then to the right, thereby leading to the Mosque's prayer hall. The entire ceiling and the corridor's walls have been decorated with 7-colored tiles; and net-like windows have been arranged in such a way that more light would enter the Mosque.

The Mosque's prayer hall is considered to be one of the most magnificent of its kind among Isfahan's mosques; it has been decorated with beautiful tiles, calligraphy and beautiful inscription, using tiles. The calligraphy inside the Mosque has been written by two calligraphers, Alireza Abbasi, the famous calligrapher of the era of Shah Abbas I, and Baqir Banna, a lesser-known calligrapher who has written the inscriptions on the dome, and whose calligraphy is very similar to that of Alireza Abbasi. The two superior inscriptions inside the Mosque have been written on an azure background, by Alireza Abbasi in 1025 A.H. (= 1605 A.D.)

Ostad Hussein Banna Isfahani, in 1608 AD constructed the Mosque’s altar that is covered with very beautiful glazed tiles.

The height of the Mosque's dome is 32 meters in the interior, and its tile-work is an outstanding feature of the Mosque. The designs on the tiles become smaller and smaller, as the tiles get closer from the perimeter to the center.

The dome of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is very beautiful, as are the other parts of the Mosque. This dome resembles a cover whose perimeter is 70 meters, and its height is 42 meters from the ground. Its exterior has been decorated with dark-blue designs, on a cream-colored background.

The exterior inscription on the dome has Solse calligraphy, in white tiles on an azure background; these inscriptions are from the Qur'anic Chapters such as Shams, Dahr, and Kowthar.

Sixteen net-like windows, in the neck of the dome, which have been decorated with glazed tiles, allow the light in for the section for nocturnal prayers.

An inscription, with Nasta'liq calligraphy written in white, on an azure background, is seen above the net-like window of the Mosque's portal; it demonstrates the repairs taken place in this Mosque.

Shah Abbas I, here for the first time celebrated the Now-ruz (Iranian New Year's Day) of 1006 A.H. (= 1597 AD.)


The Friday Mosque is the oldest. The greater part of the present building dates back to the 11th century and to the beginning of the 12th. Changes and additions were made in subsequent periods. The monument therefore illustrates the evolution of Iranian sacred architecture. Comprehensive restoration and clearing work around the building have been carried out during the past few years. The central courtyard is one of the largest in Iran: 65 meters by 76. In the center a fine marble pool with generously festooned edge

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