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A district or neighborhood mosque.



A large, unroofed open space with a long prayer wall on one side in a Muslim town.


Congregational/Friday mosque

Where the principal or weekly service for Islam is held.


Symbolic or suggestive. This style was used in Islamic ornamentation and design. Design with no living figures.


Four design strategies for ornamentation of mosques

Repetition of an architectural element like an arch, geometric manipulations like rotated and interlocking polygons, organic growth in the form of plantlike foliation, and calligraphy.

Columned Hall/Hypostyle Mosques

Type of Mosque popular in Arabia, North Africa, and Spain. Has a columned hall, and a minaret. Ex. Great Mosque of Cordoba.

Iwan Mosques

Mosques popular in Iran and Central Asia. Consists of a rectangular court flanked by large, often vaulted spaces, or iwans.

Multi-Domed Mosques

Mosque type popular in Turkey. Large, centrally organized mosque with domed spaces.


Islamic vault treatment that fragments the surface into many concave segments. May be built in masonry or suspended as elements from an overhead structure.

Dome of the Rock (687-91) in Jerusalem Israel

Located on Mount Moriah sacred to the Jews and Muslims. Site where Abraham had offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice to the lord and the location of Solomon's temple. Also the place where Mohammed ascended in his night journey to paradise. The shrine was built around the rock. Commemorative mosque built to honor the holy site. Builders were from Syria (previous Byzantine empire). Has a centralized plan. Has marble veneer and mosaic titles on the exterior. The dome was covered in gold leaf and built with wood ribs. Wood boards were then put on the ribs. The boards were covered with lead and then gold leaf. Has 2 ambulatory aisles. Built around a rock outcropping. Arches has alternating black and white marble voussiors.

Grand Mosque at Mecca, Saudi Arabia, 7th century

Mosque that holds the Ka'ba. All Muslims must travel here at least once in their life. Center of Islam culture.



Most important Islamic prophet. Lived near Mecca.

The 5 pillars of Islam

One shall worship only one god called Allah and Muhammad was his messenger. One must pray facing Mecca, 5 times a day. One must give charity to the poor. One must fast every day during the month of Ramadan. One must make a pilgrimage called the Haj, to Mecca at least once in one's life time.



Meteorite/stone that was seen spiritual to the Islams. Housed in the Ka'ba.

Ka'ba Mecca

Means cube. Cloth draped cubical shrine. Stone structure covered in a cloth. Houses a sacred stone, before Muhammad, the Qibla - meteorite. When Muhammad was 10 a major earthquake happened, damaged the Ka'ba. Muhammad chose where the stone was placed.

House of the Prophet at Medina (ca. 622)

Mohammad's home and the first place to worship in Islam. Was a square enclosure with small chambers set in the southeast corner for his living quarters. The rest of the space was a partially open central court.



Primary place of worship for Islam.


Influences of the design of the mosque

House of the prophet at Medina, Christian churches, and audience halls of Persia.

The Great Mosque at Damascus (706-15)

Congregational mosque. Umayyad built rectangular minarets. Was a site of a Greek temple and then a Roman temple. Used the foundation walls to create a hypostyle hall. Oldest extant mosque. Constructed under al-Walid I. Had four minarets that had elevated platforms at the corners of the site from which summon the faithful to prayer. Over half of the inner space is the sahn containing a domed fountain pavilion for ritual ablutions and an octagonal pavilion originally used for the public treasury. Has a haram.

Mosaic: "Visions of Paradise" at the Great Mosque at Damascus

Aniconic mosaic. Heaven and paradise in the desert is an oasis. Used images of architecture.


Tower on a mosque. Place for the muezzin to climb up on the top on Friday to call all men to the mosque. Visual marker in the landscape.


Man who who would climb up on the minaret of a masque to call all men to prayer.


Arcaded court in a mosque. A courtyard.

Ablutions Fountain

A fountain to purify. Located in the sahn. Must wash up in the fountain before entering the Haram.


Covered prayer hall in a mosque. Where the mass prayer takes place.


A special processional area reserved for the retinue of the caliph.


Qibla Wall

Prayer wall in the mosque that faces Mecca. Back wall of a mosque.


Niches made in the walls that indicated the direction of Mecca.


A raised pulpit(platform) with steps leading up to it, from which Qur'anic readings, sermons, or official proclamations and addresses are given by the imam(priest).



A platform placed in the prayer hall where the prayer administrator would give prayers.

The Great Mosque of al-Mutawakkil at Samarra Iraq (848/49-52)

Hypostyle Mosque with a columned hall and a single minaret. Has a rectangular burned-brick-wall enclosure with attached semicircular towers. Has a series of square columns inside.



Religious and civil ruler in a Muslim country.

The Great Mosque 785 Cordoba Spain

Congregational, hypostyle mosque with a nearly square plan, half was the sahn and the other half was the haram, which had 10 rows of 11 columns to form a 11-aisled sanctuary. Arches connect the columns. Two arch levels, and are polychrome - composed of white stone voussoirs set alternately red brick ones. Abd al Raham III patron of the mosque. Has a rectangular minaret. Horseshoe arches and columns used as ornament. The floor was covered in a clay tile. Interior has a forest of columns. The mihrab has a dome and clestitory windows. Arches made of brick and stone. Hypostyle hall made of spolia. Building on ancient traditions of the Middle East, Egypt, and Persia. The colonades has a double tier system of arches. arches has scalloping in the arches and the arches are interlaced.



Plaster used with ornament. Can carve in it when it is wet, and is rock hard when dries.

Bibi Khanum Mosque, Samarkand, Uzbekistan 1399

Iwan Mosque issued by Timur. Made up of iwans, and has a sahn inside ranks of columns forming 4 L-shaped halls, all bounded by a rectangular perimeter wall.


A vaulted or domed volume, walled on 3 sides and open on the other. Covered spaces but open to the sun on one side.

Friday Mosque in Isfahan Iran 8th Century

Earliest iwan mosque. Original form was a rectangular multi-columned hall covered with a wooden roof, with a large sahn at its core. The southern dome covered 20 bays. Later 4 iwans were added, one in the center of each side of the sahn. Had glazed titles in shades of blue, turquoise, white, and yellow, and stalactite-like muqarnas vaults. Entire building, including the dome, is covered in tile.

Mosaic Titlework

Take a large tile and paint it and cover it a glaze and bake it and then break it apart into tesserae.

Cuerda seca

Took twine and used it to outline the design on the tile and then put twine in between the colors and then put silica on it and bake it. The twine kept the paint from mixing. Could have large painted tiles versus small ones.


covered market in Islamic cities.



Religious schools for Islam.

Umayyad Palace, Mshatta, Jordan, c. 740-750 CE

Umayyad palace built by Caliph al-Walid II. The palace was abandoned before it was ever completed. Has a buttressed, square enclosure.

Madrasa of Sultan, Cairo, Egypt, c. 1356 CE

Founded by Sultan Hassan. It was a religious and a mosque. Has 4 iwans.

The Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain, 13th-14th century CE

Royal citadel and fortress-palace. Build by the Nasrid Dynasty. The Moorish palace was later added on by Charles V, after the Spanish took Spain from the Moors. Palace chambers were grouped around rectangular courts. The patios had pools and fountains and were arcaded galleries.

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