Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque (named after a Lebanese cleric of the royal court) is one of the architectural masterpieces of Safavid Dynasty and is located in Esfahan, Iran. Construction of the mosque started in 1603 and was finished in 1619. It was built during the reign of Shah Abbas I. Considered by many to be one of the most beautiful mosques in the world, the building was constructed to be a private mosque of the royal court and there is a tunnel allowing private access to the mosque from the Ali Qapu palace located across the central square. For centuries, this mosque was hidden from public view and it wasn’t until the doors were opened to the public, that ordinary people could admire the effort that Shah Abbas had put into making this sacred place, and the exquisite tile-work, which is far superior to those of any other mosque in Iran.
The design of the Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is quite simple, there is no courtyard and there are no minarets. In contrast to the simple structure of this mosque, the decoration of both interior and exterior is exceedingly complex and in its construction the finest materials were used and the most talented craftsmen employed. Every square inch of the main prayer hall is covered in polychromic “haft-rang” tiles. The peacock tail at the center of the interior side of the dome is one of the unique characteristics of the mosque. If you stand at the entrance of the inner hall and look at the center of the dome, a peacock, whose tail is the sunrays coming in from the windows in the ceiling, can be seen. This tail revolves around the dome with the motion of the sun.
This small Mosque is different than any other I’ve been to. There are some obvious distinct features such as the fact that it lacks a minaret, or that every single square inch (inside and our) is covered in beautiful glazed mosaic tiles. Those extrinsic features are unique. But what draws the visitor to the Mosque is a tranquil beauty that cannot be put in to words. I spent half a day in the dimly lit main hall mesmerized by the hypnotic patterns in the dome; fascinated by the architectural genius of the ever-moving peacock tail projected onto the dome; and….at complete peace. The mosque immerses and absorbs the observer in an almost gnostic fashion. As a photographer, it is this esoteric experience that I attempt to capture and convey.