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ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE. Islamic Period (632A.D.-1648A.D.) Most of ruling class was Jewish or Christian at the time of the Prophet’s birth. Islamic movement.

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Presentation on theme: "ISLAMIC ARCHITECTURE. Islamic Period (632A.D.-1648A.D.) Most of ruling class was Jewish or Christian at the time of the Prophet’s birth. Islamic movement."— Presentation transcript:


2 Islamic Period (632A.D.-1648A.D.) Most of ruling class was Jewish or Christian at the time of the Prophet’s birth. Islamic movement began in 632A.D. following the death of the Prophet Mohammad Nomadic Muslim Arabs had no significant architecture traditions before the conquests; only mud-brick architecture was in the SW corner of Arabian shield (Arabia Felix) where spices and aromatic herbs were main products (Frankincense and Myrrh). Trade was main economic income. Islamic architecture is characterized by tensions between religious asceticism and worldly pleasure. Islam (submission to the will of God) was taught by Mohammad after he experienced his calling in 610AD. Reward and punishment comes at judgment of the world and Allah is the judge. 5 Main obligations are: confession of faith, prayer (5X daily), charitable gifts, fasting in the month of Ramadan, and pilgrimage to Mecca. Pilgrimage opened the countryside to international trade.

3 After the death of the Prophet, his followers, his sons and widow began to argue over the administration of the faith. Islam was divided into factions allied with these family members, resulting in the Sunnites and Shi’ites and later the Sufi, Fatimids and other factions. First regions to be invaded by the Muslim Arabs included: Syria, Palestine, Iraq, and Mesopotamia Damascus was captured by 635A.D. Jerusalem and Caesarea were captured before 640A.D. Umayyad Caliphate (661A.D.-750A.D.) were the earliest dynastic rulers of Islam By the 12 th c. Islam has moved as far as Bengal (into what is now India), proving the superiority of their cavalry over the Indian elephant infantry. By 1498 discovery of sea routes makes India of interest to the Europeans, who drive out the Arabs.


5 Typical Mosque Layout


7 Umayyad Mosque, Damascus. Constructed on the site of the church of St. John, which in turn was constructed on the site of the Roman Forum. The same building, with modification, served all three purposes

8 Prayer Hall

9 Iwan : A vaulted room, opening usually into the courtyard of a mosque, used for teaching the tenets of the faith. Children recite the Koran to learn it by heart. (Wazir Kahn Mosque Lahore, India)

10 Mihrab: The arched opening in the qibla wall which centers the participant’s attention on the prayers. Qibla Wall: orients the prayer lines toward Mecca Horseshoe arch: one typical form in Islamic architecture

11 Minbar: a raised platform where the Imam leads the faithful in prayer. The Imam also faces toward Mecca.

12 Squinch And Pendintive

13 Qubah/Dome Note the similarities to the form of the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul (Constantinople)

14 Minarets/Minarats Al-Wahlid is given credit for building the first minarets at Medina. (8 th c.) Prior to this the call was issued from the roof or a doorway of the mosque.

15 Islamic stonework is known for its intricate floral motifs and screen-like piercing.

16 Most Islamic decoration was geometric after the Abbasids came to power. They were more restricted and banned any representation of human or animal forms. Inscriptions could be purely religious (but calligraphy can also be a decorative abstraction.) Moslems were very concerned with symbolism, especially of numbers. Form is dematerialized by breaking it up with patterns.

17 Dome of the Rock (691A.D.- 692A.D.) Jerusalem, Israel

18 Dome of the Rock Jerusalem, Israel




22 Umayyad Great Mosque (706A.D. – 715A.D.) Damascus, Syria Damascus, Syria

23 Umayyad Great Mosque Damascus, Syria



26 Islam in Spain Spain was conquered in 750AD Gardens in courtyard originally olive trees (now citrus) for shade and fruit. Horseshoe arches are thought to be Spanish in origin. At Cordoba Mosque: Space broken up by forest of columns and striped arches – atmosphere of mystery created by confusion of shapes and colors. A transcendental experience is produced, even without mosaics or tilework. Dome is mosaic like contemporary Byzantine buildings. Variety of patterns and capitols have pierced carving. The Reconquista – Christian expansion pushes into the Iberian Penninsula by 1260; the Crusades recapture the Holy Land between 11 th and 14 th centuries, and the Mongols capture Baghdad in 1258. 1517 the Ottoman Turks capture Egypt and Selim I claims the title of Caliph, but in 1924 Ataturk abolishes the Caliphate, breaking the empire apart.


28 Great Mosque of Cordoba (786A.D.) Cordoba, Spain

29 Great Mosque of Cordoba Cordoba, Spain



32 Great Mosque of Cordoba Dome (962A.D. – 966A.D.)

33 Alhambra (13 th Century A.D. – 14 Century A.D.) Granada, Spain a palace for the caliph and his family The Alhambra seen from east. The round structure is the 16th century Palacio of Carlos V. To the far left of it lies the Torre de Comares, part of the Serallo, and where the Salón de Embajadores lies. In between is the Court of the Lions and the Mexuar. In the back from this lies the Alcazba, overlooking the city of Granada.

34 Hall of the Ambassadors

35 Court of the Myrtles, Alhambra

36 Court of the Lions at the Alhambra Granada, Spain

37 Court of the Lions is a part fo the Harem. Notice the pierced carving at the top of the columns. Light comes through in the same way it does through date palm trees, so is reminiscent of Arabia.

38 Vault, Hall of Abencerrajes. To the south of the Lion Court is the Hall of the Abencerrajes The ceiling is 16- sided with stalactite decorations, lit by windows in the dome itself; light is reflected by the fountain on the floor.

39 Great Mosque of Masjid-I-Jami (1088A.D.) Isfahan, Iran

40 The Mosque of Suleyman (1550A.D.) Istanbul, Turkey Architect - Sinan Hagia Sophia

41 "Here Sinan demonstrated his transformation of the Hagia Sophia plan from which he had drawn his inspiration: his dome is buttressed by two half-domes and two typanum walls." "Sinan's solution of putting four minarets at the corners of his arcaded courtyard (inspired by the atrium) sets up a counterpoint between a solid volume on the mosque side and a 'negative' space on the courtyard side." — Henri Stierlin. Comprende l'Architecture universelle 2. p378-9. "Suleyman the magnificent ordered a mosque appropriate to his title to be built by the architect Sinan, whereupon the present mosque was begun on one of the hills dominating the Golden Horn." "The mosque, and its attendant structures, madrasa, arms—houses, infirmaries, caravansarais, a medical school, hamams, schools of Tradition, a hospital, cells and shops were begun in 1550 by the architect Sinan and completed in 1557." —Ilhan Aksit. Treasures of Istanbul. p164.

42 Suleyman Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey.

43 Great Mosque of Samara, Iraq. Courtesy of Iransaga. It was built 848-852 AD. on an open plan. It is the largest mosque of Islam (748 x 512 ft).

44 Taj Mahal (1631A.D.-1648A.D.) Agra, India


46 Gardens in Persia and Islamic Cultures During the Achaemenid age, Persian monuments conveyed concepts of the garden and of man’s dependence upon nature. The Achaemenid tradition of garden design continued through two forms of landscape expression: hunting gardens and planted courtyards. In ancient Mesopotamia, agriculture relied on above-ground irrigation systems, which could be repaired, expanded, and enlarged. To maintain their gardens and encourage agriculture, the Persians needed to develop irrigation systems which would work in this hot and dry climate. Open canals were not efficient in this arid region, but cultivation became possible by constructing many underground irrigation canals called kariz or qanat Coal miners in northeastern Iran improvised a way to extract the water from the coalmines using the qanat. The Hailan-Aleppo qanat: A 12-km long subterranean channel dated to 13 th century BC is the oldest discovered qanat. It still functioned until the early part of this century These methods were gradually applied by farmers and spread all over the plateau of Iran.

47 Qanat: Main shafts that were excavated to the permanent subterranean water level, usually at the base of hills or mountains, with slightly sloping tunnels which were constructed by workers who dug to where the water was needed.

48 At approximately 50-foot intervals, shafts were dug to help remove material and maintain the qanat line. A qanat taps water that has seeped into the ground and channels it via straight tunnels to the land surface. The major benefit of the qanat is that its underground location prevents the evaporation of the water. Hammurabi (1792-1750 BC) in his famous code lists some regulations for the irrigation issues, for example, “If any one open his ditches to water his crop, but is careless, and the water flood the field of his neighbor, then he shall pay his neighbor corn for his loss.”

49 Hunting Parks Cyrus the Great owned one of the earliest recorded hunting parks, an expansive site at Celaenae. Fenced hunting parks enabled Persian kings to display their prowess in horsemanship and archery, symbolizing their nobility and authority. “For them hunting and riding were no longer an economic necessity but a way of defining themselves. In some sense, they saw the basis of their nobility and authority in swiftness of movement-skill in horsemanship and archery like that of their ancestors- and in loyalty to their superiors.” According to written accounts and engraved monuments, the term paradise also referred to hunting-parks with fruit trees grown for food.

50 We know that the tomb of Cyrus was enclosed by a grove, and his son Cambyses entrusted its care as a hereditary office to a family of Magi. This grove was used as a place for hunting by Persians, like their neighbors, the Assyrians and the Babylonians, were interested with the chase in the open field. Cyrus the Great owned a huge hunting park at Celaenae, which extended above the town on both banks of the Maeander, and there, he used to hunt on horseback for the sake of exercise. This is one of the earliest recorded hunting parks, dating to (356- 323 BC). This hunting park at Celaenae was reported to be full of wild creatures and large enough to hold 130,000 troops. The Persepolis platform was surrounded by huge gardens, which were used as hunting parks during the Achaemenid period. The hunting scene is illustrated in some Achaemenid artifacts. For example, in one of the finely-cut rock-crystals in Persepolis, King Darius is shown in a grove of palms where he is hunting. The reason behind designing these fenced parks was that the Iranian aristocracy preferred hunting and riding in special preserves rather than in open country where the game might elude them. Darius hunting in a grove of palms

51 Palace Villa at Mshatta (744A.D.-750A.D.) Jordan, Palestine Villa at Khirbat Al-Mafjar (739A.D.-744A.D.) Jericho, Palestine Dome of the Rock (691A.D.-692A.D.) Jerusalem, Israel Umayyad Great Mosque (706A.D.-715A.D.) Damascus, Syria Great Mosque of Cordoba (786A.D.) (962A.D.-966A.D.) Cordoba, Spain Islamic Architecture Buildings Review

52 Alhambra (13 th Century A.D.-14 th Century A.D.) – Granada, Spain The Great Mosque of Masjid-I-Jami (1088A.D.) –Isfahan, Iran The Mosque of Suleyman (1550A.D.) –Istanbul, Turkey –Architect Sinan Taj Mahal (1631A.D.-1648A.D.) –Agra, India Islamic Architecture Buildings Review (Continued)

53 Vocabulary Arabesque Bazaar Caravanserai Haj (pilgrimage) Horseshoe arch Iwan Kaaba Madrasa Martyria/Martyrium Mihrab Minbar Minaret/minarat Mosque/Masjid Paradiso (garden) Pendentive Qibla Qubah (dome) Quran (Koran) Ramadan (fasting time) Squinch Stalactite niche



56 Geometric tilework. Not the same as mosaic; the tiles are cut to shape and glazed.

57 Middle Eastern Houses and Natural Air Conditioning

58 Villa at Khirbat Al-Mafjar (739A.D. – 744A.D.) Jericho, Palestine


60 Tower House In San’a, Jeddah and Medina tower houses were up to 9 stories tall, but the Prophet had a courtyard house because he liked to pray outside. There are open air mosques outside some cities for crowds during prayer festivals. Outside the city allows for better crowd control; tribalism is still strong and the army guards these festivals.

61 Some Islamic innovations: Hospitals Germ theory Paper Geometry Arabic numerals Spread of knowledge with books on paper Natural air-conditioning

62 Courtyard house, single-story. Arabia, Egypt

63 Single-storied, two-courtyard house; Arabia – Kuwait, Syria - Damascus

64 Much of Islamic building is in semi-arid areas so mud brick architecture prevails. It is a remarkable insulator and interior courtyards are used as a source of light and air, the heart of a house. Streets are narrow and exterior walls of the buildings are blank. The building as an object simply disappears. For Muslims the transcendental is supreme and nature is merely a part of life. Muslims are very concerned with symbolism. The proportions of the square are most important geometric shape and nearly all mosques are centered around a square, (a notable exception is the mosque at Baghdad), and rhythmic movement is apparent, especially in the inscriptions, which can be purely religious, a mixture of religious and secular, or only decorative abstractions. Expressions of geometry or geometric patterns are common, and all can be traced back to a square, the symbol for Allah. The square symbolizes order in the universe. These repetitive patterns break up the surfaces into facets, making the real forms difficult to recognize – they effectively dematerialize the walls upon which they are placed and are intended to invoke a transcendental state in the worshipper.






70 Damascus: Present day street pattern in Residential Quarter





75 High above the hustle and bustle of the street, one can see but not be seen while taking the air.

76 Dark interiors also help cool the air inside.

77 Isfahan, Iran (Persia)




81 Spice seller in Sana’a.


83 Caravanserais, Suks and Bazaars Caravanserais have roofs if near the market, but often in outer areas of the city are open air. (These are areas where the old retired animals are fed.) Stables below and hotels for drovers and merchants above. Contain space for storage, restaurants, open courts and a mosque. A few towers for security police who guard the caravanserai. Some finer ones contain a more upper class hotel and coffee bars, restaurants that serve hotel guests and shoppers, and a courtyard for horses (mounts – not pack animals.) Outskirts of markets have free accommodations for widows, students, etc. provided by the market. Firewood is too dangerous to sell in the markets, so sold outside the city, along with meat and fish. Gates are closed at curfew. Suks and Bazaars are also markets, Suks are open air and bazaars are usually roofed.

84 An Egyptian bazaar.

85 The remains of a caravanserai in Bisotun, Iran (UCB Spiro collection)

86 Leacroft, H., The Building of Early Islam, Hodder & Stoughton, London, 1976, UCB Spiro collection

87 Narrow streets become a suk.

88 Some background history Mecca and Medina are situated in low rocky hills with mineral deposits of iron, copper and gold. In the south there were farms producing spices and aromatic oils, especially frankincense and myrrh, which were important to the Egyptian embalmers, and incense for religious services. This stimulated the growth of trading towns before the time of the Prophet. In Mecca people were well off until the ores ran out and the demand for spices and herbs lessened with the decline of the Roman Empire and the discovery of a new route to India that effectively cut out the middle man in Arabia. (It was always safer to travel over land. The Red Sea was famous for its pirates.) Jeddah, Medina and Mecca all had tower houses up to nine stories tall, but the Prophet had a one-story house because he liked to pray out in the open courtyard on the ground.

89 The mountains around Sana’a.

90 Sana’a houses, old and new mixed together. Yemen.


92 Houses in Sana’a, Yemen. Notice the open arches at the top floor. These are open-air courtyards for the families.

93 The narrowness of the streets helps to keep them shaded and cooler.

94 Shibam, Yemen.

95 The structure at the top of this house is a wind-catcher or ventilation shaft. The residence of Imam Yahya in the Wadi Dhar near San‘a’.

96 Dar-el-Haggar, outside Sana’a.



99 Badghir, for bringing cool air up from the bottom of the house and cooling the upper rooms; a natural air conditioning method.


101 Malqaf


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