Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji, an Iranian physics student and amateur photographer, has captured the sacred beauty of Iran's many mosques in a breathtaking new way. Holy places around the world have been designed to delight and inspire those who enter the buildings, and anyone who has visited the most gorgeous temples and cathedrals on Earth have likely wandered around with their head thrown back and jaw gaping, marveling at the wonders around them. Fortunately for us, Mr. Ganji's photographs draw the intricate patterns within each building into single photos that we can marvel at.
Sheikh lotfollah Mosque, Isfahan
Construction of this breathtaking mosque began in 1603, and it was completed in late 1619. It’s one of the smaller mosques in the area, designed to be used solely by the royal family, and its exquisite tile work creates a veritable garden of flowers and leaves around the entire building’s interior, with intricate patterns leading viewers’ eyes up to the centre of the dome above.
Ālī Qāpū Palace and Music Hall, Isfahan
Although this isn’t specifically a mosque, the Ālī Qāpū Palace (also called Alighapu) has an incredible music hall that hosts several concerts a year, including devotional music. Built in the 17th century, its acoustics are phenomenal: the echoes cast by just a few instruments can give the impression of an entire orchestra playing in the space.
This room, adjacent to Alī Qāpū’s music room, has a majestic, glowing dome and intricate tile work. The cutouts and plaster work on the walls represent various jars and vessels.
Vakil Mosque Buildings, Shiraz
What Ganji refers to as the “little planet” view of one of the buildings in the Vakil Mosque complex. When viewed all at once, the arched doorways and tile patterns create a stunning floral effect.
Another central view, this time taken at inside the Vakil Mosque itself. The mosaics inside the archways complement the patterns above, and all are resplendent in blue and green tiles that glow in natural sunlight.
The Vakil Mosque’s ceiling and surrounding archways. The white marble pillars spiral up to the majestic domed roof above, where the tiles create a peacock-like effect in the same blues and greens found throughout the rest of the building.
Chehel Sotoun Palace, Isfahan
Quite literally, this “Palace of Forty Columns” was commissioned by Shah Abbas II and completed in 1646. There are, in fact, only twenty columns gracing the front of the building, but the reflective pool in front of it gives the illusion of twice that number. The ceiling in the main hall is unusual as its frescoes and paintings depict many human characters; a practice that was later forbidden in Islamic art.
Seyyed Mosque, Isfahan
This incredible building is the largest and most well known mosque in the region. Also referred to as the Seyyed Mosque, it was built in the mid 1800s and serves as both a hub of religious worship, and a residential/learning center for theology students. The geometric and floral patterns created by the blue and gold tiles create a luminous effect that undoubtedly inspires anyone who visits the space.
Jame Mosque, Yazd
This grand congregational mosque in Yazd dates back to the 12th century, though a great deal of reconstruction work took place in the 14th century as well. It boasts the tallest minarets in all of Iran, and the faience ceramic tiles used inside the building are the most exquisite of their kind. This type of decoration was unparalleled when the building was first constructed, and the effect created by the color work and calligraphy is nothing short of awe-inspiring.
Shah Imam Mosque, Isfahan
This mosque is also known as the “Imam Mosque”, and is considered one of the greatest masterpieces of Islamic art and architecture. Construction began on the building in the early 1600s, and it is decorated throughout with tiles of seven different hues. Calligraphy features highly throughout the building as well, and its glittering blue dome shimmers in the sunlight.
Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
Also known as the “pink mosque”, Nasir al-Mulk was built in Shiraz, Iran, in the late 1800s. One glimpse at its interior explains its nickname: lustrous tiles in all shades of red and pink adorn the inner dome as well as the walls, giving a warm glow to the entire building.
This photo showcases the intricate geometric patterns that splay across the mosque’s ceilings, as well as the arches that elevate the upper domes.
Only when the sun is low in the sky, in late autumn/early winter, will the light pour through the stained glass windows to pool the colors across the floor as they do in this panoramic image.
Some of the most stunning pieces of art and architecture in the world are those that have been created as an act of sacred devotion, as these buildings illustrate beautifully. Hundreds of thousands of brightly-colored tiles have been used to create the mosaics seen within each of these buildings, from the kaleidoscopic ceilings to the calligraphy adorning the walls. Without being there in person, one can only imagine the effect of gazing up at these lofty domes as light streams through stained glass and brings each pattern to life.
All images © Mohammad Reza Domiri