Historically speaking these Mosques, have existed for more than millennia developing out fine examples of excellent architecture of Islam and Muslims. Mosques were not always as ornate as some we see today. It is seen that most mosques abide by a certain archetype; which they have originally developed. Mosques originally developed on the Arabian Peninsula from the open-air spaces-prayer halls-as those of the Quba Mosque and Al-Masjid al-Nabawi in the 7th century, a forest of columns, a Qibla (the wall of a mosque that indicates the direction of Mecca), minarets (from which the call to prayer is announced five times per day), and an elaborate dome.
Consequently and with the spread of Islam world over it have fostered the proliferation of mosques around the world. With today’s rapid modernization of the world, and with Islam as the fastest growing religion, advanced forms of architectures are seen in the latest masjids. Reflective of where and when they were built, fusions in architectural and arts to those places, mosques styles or designs from different regional cultures have been resulted to generate splendid mosques and are now found in all inhabited continents around the globe. Truly these sacred places of worship deserves to be visited these magnificent buildings are considered tourist attractions, due to their rich historical importance.
What better than this month of fasting to appreciate the beauty of these stunning, and almost majestic, Islamic architectures and to look at some of the finest mosques known for their history and architecture than the month of Ramadan? One of the interesting facts about mosque that they are so numerous; that they can be found in practically every nook and cranny on the planet. Cairo alone contains more than 1000 mosques. Here are Unbelievable Beautiful Mosques from various countries around the world with excellent architecture that will leave you breathless! These mosques often take you back in time to Muslims’ glorious past of the great achievements of Islamic civilization. Here are the most famous mosques in a select few cities around the world according to its date of being built. You must witness Ramadan celebrations in these breathtaking mosques. If you get a chance to travel across continents and countries to enjoy pleasure of seeing these famous mosques which are unique that, you’ll have you falling in love in no time:
AL HARAM MOSQUE, MECCA (Makkah);
Masjid Al Haram, is also known as the Grand Mosque, the Great Mosque, and the Holy Mosque. As per legend, Masjid Al Haram is the largest and oldest mosque in the world. Being the first ever mosque to be built, it is considered the holiest of all mosques in Islam and the most revered place.
Muslims world over, pray facing Mecca five times every day when offering their prayers, but specifically they are facing this mosque, in particular the Kaaba. This means that this mosque is the only mosque in the world which has no prayer direction as other mosques in the world does, as everyone will be facing the Kaaba …a cube-shaped Kaaba or “House of God” at the center of the site. This is also the place where Muslims come to perform their Hajj, a pilgrim that involves encircling the Kaaba; one of the Five Pillars of Islam. The Hajj is one of the largest annual pilgrimage to Mecca and one of the largest gatherings of the Muslim in the world held from the 8th to the 12th of Dhu al-Hijjah, the 12th and final month of the Islamic lunar calendar.
The mosque was rebuilt many times over the centuries, but the first was by Prophet Abraham and his son Ismail. Many believe it was erected on the original foundations of the Kaaba built by the first Prophet, Adam. The Current structure of AL HARAM MOSQUE covers an area of 356,800 square meters (3,840,563 square feet) including outdoor and indoor praying spaces and accommodates up to four million people during the period of the Hajj. Muslims may also visit at any time of the year for Umrah.
AL NABAWI MOSQUE, MEDINA, SAUDI ARABIA;
Al Nabawi Mosque often called the Prophet’s Mosque because the prophet Muhammad used to live here. Al Nabawi Mosque is situated in the city of Medina, Saudi Arabia. Prophet’s Mosque is the second holiest, second largest site in Islam right after Mecca, and the second mosque built in history. The mosque was built by the Prophet Muhammad’s hand sharing, on the ground of his home and also he was buried under the green dome at the center of the mosque. Al Nabawi Mosque was renovated multiple times and seen several developmental expansions.
AL AQSA MOSQUE, JERUSALEM;
Al-Aqsa Mosque also known as Al-Aqsa and Bayt al-Muqaddas and is the third holiest site in Islam. The Islamic shrine is nestled in in the Old City of Jerusalem in an area called the Temple Mount. Al-Aqsa Mosque is sitting very close to the Dome of the Rock mosque, where the latter is believed to be built on the holiest site in Judaism. The Temple Mount for Judaism is a site where Muslims believe Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. Muslims believe that Muhammad was transported here from the Al Haram Mosque in Mecca to the Al-Aqsa Mosque during the Night Journey, and then on to heaven.
Bayt al-Muqaddas was the first Qibla that the Muslims face while doing prays. This Islamic tradition was stated till Prophet Muhammad led prayers facing the Kaaba mosque on the seventeenth month after the emigration, by the order of Allah when praying.
DOME OF THE ROCK MOSQUE, JERUSALEM;
Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa … THERE IS A CONFUSION BETWEEN THESE TWO SITES where they’re sometimes considered one and the same. They are two distinctly separate buildings located in an area of Old Jerusalem in an area called Temple Mount. They are located close to each other and imply a close relationship too. Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa are the holiest site in Judaism and remains the crossroads of the three great monotheistic religions. The Temple Mount is called Haram al-Sharif (the Noble Sanctuary) a site which the rock covered by the dome is believed by Muslims to be a site where Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. Jewish tradition holds that it is the site where the Temple of Jerusalem once stood… the First Temple of the Jews and the rock is the place of sacrifice where Abraham prepared to sacrifice his son.
Dome of the Rock is not actually a mosque; the Dome of the Rock is a shrine for the three great monotheistic religions. The Dome of the Rock has been recognized at a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Great Mosque of Damascus, UMAYYAD MOSQUE, Syria;
Damascus is one of the oldest and holiest shrines of Islam. Damascus was built between AD 705 and 715 on a site of a Christian Basilica which has been considered sacred for over 3,000 years by the Umayyad Caliph Khalid-bin-Waleed. The Muslims shared the church building with the Christians as a combined temple, comprising a mosque and a church alongside that is why the structure is a cross over between Christianity and Islam.
Legend tells us that the mosque building holds a shrine contains the head of John the Baptist (Yahya), who is honored as a prophet by both religions; Christians and Muslims. The tomb of Salah-El-din stands in a small garden adjoining the north wall of the mosque. In addition, Muslims also believe it to be the spot where Jesus will return at the End of Days.
There are no words that can describe my sadness that the beloved mosque grievously wounded and destroyed, and have been passing into difficult restoration and construction due to the war known in Syria.
THE GREAT MOSQUE OF XI’AN, CHINA;
The first mosque in China was the Great Mosque of Xi’an, founded in 742 AD, during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) less than 20 years after the death of Prophet Muhammad. It is the oldest and possibly best-preserved Islamic mosques in all of China, located near the Drum Tower. Many additions were made which makes it an ancient Chinese architectural complex and design. The mosque has undergone numerous reconstructions representing many periods of time forming a mixed architecture – traditional Muslim and Chinese styles… Song(960-1279), Yuan (1271-1638), Ming (1368-1644), and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.
THE GREAT MOSQUE OF CORDOBA, SPAIN;
Cordoba Mosque is unique of its own and has an extraordinarily rich history. It is a monument to the religious changes Temple/Church/Mosque/ Church and thus it has inspired the architecture of all those who came. Cordoba is one of the oldest standing structures in Spain from the time Muslims ruled Al-Andalus in the late 8th century and even more. Originally it was believe that there had first been part of the small temple to the Roman god, Janus, on this site somewhere around 400 AD. The temple was converted into a Christian church by invading Visigoths who seized Cordoba in 572. Next, the church was converted into a mosque by Abd-ar-Rahman I in 784–786. It was completely rebuilt on the rests of a Christian Visigoth Church by the descendants of the exiled Umayyads. It went back to being a Christian cathedral since 1236. Ferdinand III enhanced its beauty and preserved the Mosque by adding new spaces and monuments.
The grand mosque of Cordoba is most notable for its giant astonishing arches supported by 856 granite, jasper, onyx and marble pillars, and the prayer hall of horseshoe arched mihrab.
THE BLUE MOSQUE, ISTANBUL, TURKEY;
TURKEY has been an Islamic center for centuries especially during the Ottoman Empire and have wonderful roots through its festive celebrations of Ramadan and filled with spiritual celebration. Ramadan is an ideal time to visit the ancient city of Istanbul and its famous Blue Mosque.
Its official name is the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, located in Istanbul and was constructed in the 17th century – between 1609 and 1616- facing Hagia Sophia . It was named after the Ottoman sultan Ahmed the first who ruled the country since. The mosque also contains Ahmed’s the first tomb. It is famously known as the Blue Mosque because of the blue tiles that are hand-painted surrounding the walls of interior design. During the night, the mosque forms a vital part of Istanbul’s majestic skyline because is bathed in elegant composition of blue because of lights that frame the mosque’s five main domes, six minarets -this is the only mosque in Istanbul having 6 minarets-, eight secondary domes and 3 entrances to the mosque. The mosque is features with traditional Islamic architecture and designs to create breathtaking patterns meant to awe and inspire.
The Grande Mosquée Hassan II, CASABLANCA– Morocco;
The King Hassan II Mosque is a popular tourist destination located in Casablanca, Morocco, Opened in 1993. The minaret is 60 stories high, at the top is a laser beam is directed across the sea towards Mecca and extending some twenty miles. Its minaret is almost 210 meters tall as it houses the world’s tallest minaret to be the tallest religious structure in the world. This turquoise and cream stunner of a mosque stands on a dramatic location overhanging the Atlantic Ocean waves.
CRYSTAL MOSQUE, TERENGGANU , MALAYSIA;
There are many mosques in Malaysia but this is another gorgeous mosque …the Crystal Mosque. The uniqueness of this mosque in this country made it one of the most popular tourist attractions in Malaysia. This time this is one of the most beautiful mosques in the world located on a man-made island of Wan Man’s Islamic Heritage Park in Terengganu, Malaysia. The mosque is characterized by modern outside architecture and inside a fairy tale or legend architecture. The mosque is unlike any other in the world… It is truly a work of art, both on the interior and exterior. Built in 2008 mainly from three main materials; steel, glass, and crystal. Being built on an island; waters reflect perfectly the crystal mosque’s beauty. The Crystal holds around 1,800 people. By church standards, though, it’s still pretty much a whopper.
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque –Brunei Darussalam –Asia;
Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddien Mosque is a royal Islamic mosque and a historic landmark located in Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of the Sultanate of Brunei. The Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque is a stunning example of modern Islamic architecture of uniting Mughal and Italian architecture which made it a tourist attraction of Brunei. The mosque is visible from almost everywhere in Bandar Seri Begawan because it boasts the minarets of the mosque stand 171 feet (52 meters) tall, and considered one of the most beautiful mosques in the Asia Pacific region. The building was completed in 1958 and it serves as the Islamic symbol on an artificial lagoon on the banks of the Brunei River at Kampong Ayer, the “village in the water”. The mosque’s most remarkable feature is the marble minarets and pure golden domes. It also houses magnificent stained-glass windows made up of 3.5 million individual pieces, arches and marble columns. The mosque is surrounded with large courtyards surrounded by a large number of trees in lush gardens full of floral gardens and water fountains which in Islam symbolizes heaven.
Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE;
The mosque is one of the largest mosques in the world and the largest in the UAE, said to hold the largest gathering of worshippers for Eid prayers in UAE as it can accommodate for up to 40,000 people. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a well-known landmark, sits majestically at the entrance to Abu Dhabi City Island. The mosque architectural design is inspired by a fusion of Arab, Persian, Mughal, Moorish mosque structures and other global architectural styles. It is constructed with materials from all over the world, such as India, Morocco, New Zealand, and Malaysia. Also, it is reported that you’ll find out there the world’s largest carpet is located used in the prayer hall! The mosque is also known for the unique lighting system on the outside walls projects clouds. It integrated to reflect the phases of the moon; as it gets lighter and darker with the moon progresses through its cycle.
See also some of our picks for Ramadan;
The Origins of the Ramadan lantern -Fanous- of Egypt and Beyond
What is Ramadan?
Ramadan in Egypt
The Islamic Lunar Calendar, Muslim Calendar or Hijri Calendar and Gregorian Calendar
Facts About Ramadan In Islam