10 Stunning Ceilings from the Wonders of Islamic Architecture

Discover ceilings from buildings inspired by Islamic architecture where looking up is a spellbinding experience! Each has a design and a story of its own. Most of them are distinctive and unique in  respect of their architecture and hold outstanding features. 

Islamic architecture encompasses a wide range of both secular and religious styles from the early period of Islam to the present day, influencing the design and construction of buildings and structures in Islamic culture and beyond. The principal Islamic architectural types are: the Mosque, the Tomb, the Palace, the Fort, the School, and urban buildings. For all these types of constructions, Islamic architecture developed a rich vocabulary that was also used for buildings of lesser importance such as public baths, fountains and domestic architecture.(*)

These numerous structures: mosques, palaces, mausoleums and shrines all around the world have breathtaking ceilings. Each has a design and a story of its own. Most of them are distinctive and unique in respect of their architecture and they all hold outstanding features. Thus it will not be fair to come up with top 10. However, in order to introduce some of these marvellous monuments, we have chosen ceilings that we found spellbinding. We have arranged them in alphabetical order according to the modern day country they reside in:

Let the countdown begin!

10 – Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE

Opened in 2007, Architect’s name is Yusef Abdelki. Architectural style is both Mughal and Moorish. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is located in Abu Dhabi, the capital city of the United Arab Emirates and is considered to be one of the key mosques for worship in the country but is also the number one mosque destination for tourists to the country. It boasts Mughal and Moorish architectural styles.

Website: www.szgmc.ae/en

9 – Masjid Al-Sultan Barquq, Cairo, Egypt

Masjid Al-Sultan Barquq Cairo, Egypt
Masjid Al-Sultan Barquq
Cairo, Egypt

On the internet it is mostly shared as Al Soltan Qalawoon Mosque(*) but some Egyptians claim this is Sultan Barquq Mosque and Madrasa (*).

Opened in 1386. Architect’s name is Shihab al Din Ahmad ibn Muhammad al Tuluni. Architectural style is Bahri Mamluk. The Madrasa-Khanqah of Sultan Barquq lies in El Muiz Li Din Allah Street next to the Mosque and Madrasa of Kamil Ayyub and the Madrasa of El Nasir. This complex was consisting of a Khanqah or hospise for the Sufi students, a Madrasa or a school that was a place for worship and study of Quran and prophetic instructions, and a mausoleum standing in one of the corners of the Madrasa. It was established by Sultan Barquq who was the first Bahri Mamluk to ascend the throne of Egypt in 1382 and the husband of the widow of Sultan Shaban. The historians expound that he managed to assume power after killing many people and plotting against others. After holding power he worked hard to defend his throne and protect it from the plots of the Syrian Mamluk Emirs. (*)

Read More: www.archnet.org/sites/2217

8 – The Taj Mahal, Agra, India

The Taj Mahal Agra, India
The Taj Mahal
Agra, India

Opened in1648, Architects’ names are Ustad Ahmad Lahouri and Ustad Isa. Architectural styles are Mughal Persian. The Taj Mahal is a white marble mausoleum located on the southern bank of the Yamuna River in the Indian city of Agra. It was commissioned in 1632 by the Mughal emperor Shah Jahan to house the tomb of his favorite wife of three, Mumtaz Mahal.(*)

Website: www.tajmahal.gov.in

7 – Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Isfahan, Iran

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque Isfahan, Iran
Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque
Isfahan, Iran

Opened in1619. Architects’ names are Bahāʾ al-dīn al-ʿĀmilī and Ustad Mohammad Reza Isfahani. Architectural style is Isfahani. Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the architectural masterpieces of Safavid Iranian architecture, standing on the eastern side of Naghsh-i Jahan Square, Isfahan, Iran. Construction of the mosque started in 1603 and was finished in 1619. It was built by the chief architect Shaykh Bahai, during the reigh of Shah Abbas I of the Safavid dynasty. (*)

Read More: Stanford.edu – Sheikh-Lotfallah-Mosque.pdf
Also see story about Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran

6 – Jalil Khayat Mosque, Erbil (Arbil), Iraq

Jalil Khayat Mosque Erbil (Arbil), Iraq
Jalil Khayat Mosque
Erbil (Arbil), Iraq

Opened in 2007. Built by Jalil Hayat. Architectural styles are Egyptian and Ottoman. Jalil Khayat mosque, which resembles in style the Muhammad Ali mosque in Cairo and the Blue mosque in Istanbul, was inaugurated in Erbil on January 19, 2007, after being under construction for many years. Jalil Khayat, one of the more well- known, wealthier people in Erbil, had the mosque built. His sons proudly took over the project after Khayat passed away in 2005. Haji Dara, one of Khayat’s sons, expressed happiness that they could complete this “charity project” and witness the first Mawlood in their new mosque.

Read More: www.beautifulmosque.com/Jalil-Khayat-Mosque-in-Erbil-Iraq

5 – Wazir Khan Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan

Wazir Khan Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan
Wazir Khan Mosque,
Lahore, Pakistan

Opened in 1642. Restored by Muhammad Wali Ullah Khan. Architectural styles are Indo-Islamic and Mughal. The Wazir Khan Mosque in Lahore, Pakistan, is famous for its extensive faience tile work. It has been described as ‘a mole on the cheek of Lahore’. The mosque was built during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan. The construction started in 1634 and lasted for 7 years. The mosque was named after Hakim Shaikh Ilm-ud-din Ansari, widely known as Wazir (translated from Farsi – minister) Khan, who was the governor of Lahore and the initiator of the mosque’s construction. (*)

Read More: www.lahoretourism.net/wazir-khan-mosque

4 – Dome Of The Rock, Jerusalem, Palestine

Dome Of The Rock, Jerusalem, Palestine
Dome Of The Rock,
Jerusalem, Palestine

Opened in 691. Architects’ names are Raja ibn Haywah and Yazid Ibn Salam. Architectural styles are Islamic and Byzantine. The Dome of the Rock (Arabic: قبة الصخرة‎, translit.: Qubbat Al-Sakhrah, Hebrew: כיפת הסלע‎, translit.: Kipat Hasela) is a shrine located on the Temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem. It was initially completed in 691 CE at the order of Umayyad Caliph Abd al-Malik during the Second Fitna. The Dome of the Rock is now one of the oldest works of Islamic architecture. It has been called “Jerusalem’s most recognizable landmark”. Its architecture and mosaics were patterned after nearby Byzantine churches and palaces. The octagonal plan of the structure may also have been influenced by the Byzantine Chapel of St Mary (also known as Kathisma and al-Qadismu) built between 451 and 458 on the road between Jerusalem and Bethlehem. The site’s significance stems from religious traditions regarding the rock, known as the Foundation Stone, at its heart, which bears great significance for Jews and Muslims.(*)

Website: www.domeoftherock.net

3 – Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain

Alhambra Palace, Granada, Spain
Alhambra Palace,
Granada, Spain

Above photo shows the Honey Comb Dome in Hall of the Abencerages. One cannot discuss Muslim Spain without referring to the famous Al-Hambra Palace in Granada. Its origins are still under debate as most scholars dated it to 13th century Granada, but there are indications which suggest it was first built in the 11th century – a significant time for both Muslim and European architecture. (Also “the first historical documents known about the Alhambra date from the 9th century and they refer to Sawwar ben Hamdun who, in the year 889, had to seek refuge in the Alcazaba, a fortress, and had to repair it due to the civil fights that were destroying the Caliphate of Cordoba, to which Granada then belonged…”*). The palace complex briefly consists of series of apartments, halls and courts organised in a delightful interconnected setting of hierarchy. The palace is an architectural masterpiece in every term. The successions of spaces are clearly defined by boundaries and each space contains identical features enhancing its identity as well as its function.

Read More: www.muslimheritage.com/node/1854

2 – Selimiye Mosque, Edirne, Turkey

Edirne (Turkey)
Nikon D3S
AF Fisheye Nikkor 16mm f/2.8D

Opened in 1574. Architect’s name Mimar Sinan. Architectural styles are Islamic and Byzantine. The Selimiye Mosque is an Ottoman imperial mosque, which is located in the city of Edirne, Turkey. The mosque was commissioned by Sultan Selim II, and was built by architect Mimar Sinan between 1569 and 1575. The interior of the mosque received great recognitions from its clean, spare lines in the structure itself. With the monumental exteriors proclaiming the wealth and power of the Ottoman Empire, the plain symmetrical interiors reminded the sultans should always provide a humble and faithful heart in order to connect and communicate with God. To enter, it was to forget the power, determination, wealth and technical mastery of the Ottoman Empire. Lights were seeped through multitude of tiny windows, and the interchanging of the weak light and dark was interpreted as the insignificance of human. The Selimiye did not only amaze the public with the extravagant symmetrical exterior, it had also astonished the people with the plain symmetrical interior for it had summarized all Ottoman architectural thinking in one simple pure form. (*)

Website: www.selimiyemosque.org

1 – Bahaud-Din Naqshband Mausoleum, Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Bahaud-Din Naqshband Mausoleum Bukhara, Uzbekistan
Bahaud-Din Naqshband Mausoleum
Bukhara, Uzbekistan

Opened in 1544. Built by Khan Abd al-Aziz. Architectural styles are Islamic and Ottoman. “Baha-ud-Din Naqshband Bukhari (1318–1389) was the founder of what would become one of the largest and most influential Sufi Muslim orders, the Naqshbandi.”(*) “Memorial complex of Bahauddin Naqshbandi is located 12 kilometers from Bukhara. Once it was place of settlement of Kasri Arifon, which was famous for its pagan customs and holidays.”(*) Memorial complex Bahauddin Naqshbandi is rectangular courtyard where the tomb of Sheikh Bukhari. The modern aivan with wooden columns is decored the central courtyard and near built the great building Khanaka. Later here was formed a vast necropolis – tomb of Bukhara emirs. Decorated mosques Muzaffarkhan and Hakim Kushbegi are struck by its beauty, which formed the courtyard with creek around the mausoleum. At the beginning of our century the Memorial complex Bahauddin Naqshbandi was restored. The arches in national style, blue domes, different gate and columns were built here. One of the most beautiful of architectural ensemble of Bukhara, the complex Bahauddin Naqshbandi meets pilgrims with silence and solitude…(*)