A Guide to the Mesmerizing Mosques of Iran

Iran, our homeland, boasts some of the world's most significant and stunning mosques. If you're drawn to art, architecture, culture, or historical legacy, ensure a visit to Iran's most captivating mosques is on your itinerary this year. Across the country lie numerous historical mosques with exquisite designs. Notable examples, remnants of the Safavid era, can be found in cities such as Isfahan, Yazd, Shiraz, and Tabriz. When visiting, it's crucial to dress modestly, remove shoes before entering the inner sanctums, and remember that mosques are generally open for most of the year except on certain public holidays. Some, like the Jameh Mosque of Yazd, even offer free admission.

What you will read in this article:

What should I wear when visiting mosques and sacred sites in Iran?

Visitors should dress modestly in accordance with local customs. For men, this means long trousers and shirts with sleeves. Women are required to cover their hair with a scarf and should wear long sleeves, pants or skirts that cover the ankles, and a long tunic or coat that covers the hips.

Yes, you are required to remove your shoes before entering the prayer area of a mosque or sacred site. Shoe racks or storage areas are usually provided at the entrance.

Non-Muslims are generally allowed to enter most mosques and sacred sites, but access to some areas may be restricted. It’s always a good idea to check with a local guide or the site’s entrance for any specific rules.

Photography is allowed in many mosques and sacred sites, but it may be restricted in certain areas or during prayer times. Look for signs indicating photography rules or ask permission if you’re unsure.

Showing respect at sacred sites includes speaking softly, avoiding disruptive behavior, and following the site-specific rules and customs. If you’re visiting during a prayer session, observe quietly and refrain from walking in front of people while they are praying.

How to Visit Sacred Sites in Iran: Etiquette and Tips

List of Iran's Most Beautiful Mosques:

When it comes to architecture, few places can compare with the mosques Iran has to offer. This architectural style blends geometric patterns, symmetry, and vibrant colors that captivate tourists and locals alike. Although choosing a few standout mosques from hundreds of striking Iranian examples is undeniably challenging, here we highlight some of the most remarkable:

Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz:

Often referred to as the Pink Mosque due to its abundant pink-colored tiles, the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque stands as one of Shiraz’s oldest and Iran’s most magnificent historical spots. At first glance, it may resemble a regular Islamic mosque. However, as the sun rises, the mosque’s architectural brilliance transforms into a giant kaleidoscope! Sunlight filters through the mosaic windows and paints the walls and floors in hundreds of hues. Because this sunlight magic fades within a few hours, plan your visit for early morning. Constructed over 12 years in the late 1800s (Gregorian calendar), restoration and conservation efforts for this mosque continue today.

Shah Cheragh, Shiraz:

Shah Cheragh is undoubtedly another one of Iran’s most beautiful mosques. Serving both as a mosque and a mausoleum, it is one of Shiraz’s prime pilgrimage sites and is recognized as a national Iranian monument. Initially, the mausoleums of two brothers who died in AD 835 were modest, but Queen Tashi Khatun decided to elevate this site into a pilgrimage destination. Today, its interior, adorned with millions of shimmering glass pieces stretching from the floor to the ceiling, has carved a spot among the world’s most beautiful mosques.

Shah Mosque, Isfahan:

Also known as Imam Mosque or Jameh Abbasi Mosque, the Shah Mosque is one of the mosques surrounding the Naghsh-e Jahan Square and was built during the Safavid dynasty. This structure is a crucial representation of Islamic architecture in Iran and stands out as one of Isfahan’s premier attractions. The mosque, an enduring masterpiece of 11th-century architecture, is located on the southern side of Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan, neighboring other prominent Safavid-era buildings like Ali Qapu and Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque. As one of Iran’s most splendid mosques, visitors can explore it every day except Fridays and official holidays. Touring hours for Imam Mosque range from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque, Isfahan:

The Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is a stunning example of intricate Iranian architecture and has stood since 1619. While its structural design is relatively simple, its tilework is worth seeing. The mosque’s dome is adorned with colorful tiles inside and out, but your favorite view will likely be the mesmerizing blue and yellow patterns.

Jameh Mosque of Yazd:

The Jameh Mosque of Yazd is among the most beautiful, unique, and significant sights. It was built in the 12th century, with various sections restored until recent decades. This grand mosque has six entrances, each situated in different parts of the mosque. Known for having the world’s tallest minaret, it is one of the most outstanding and unique architectural masterpieces. By visiting the Jameh Mosque of Yazd, one of the most beautiful mosques in Iran, you’ll fall even more in love with Iranian architecture. Located in the Fahadan neighborhood on Imam Khomeini Street in Yazd, a visit typically takes 1 to 2 hours. If you’re genuinely interested in historical topics, we recommend touring the mosque with a guide. It’s worth noting that entrance to the Jameh Mosque of Yazd is free.

Kabood Mosque (Blue Mosque), Tabriz:

The Kabood Mosque in Tabriz is another of the most prominent examples of Islamic architecture. Located in East Azerbaijan Province, this grand and awe-inspiring mosque attracts many architecture enthusiasts worldwide. Regrettably, significant sections of the mosque have been destroyed in recent years. This historical mosque is situated on Imam Khomeini Street in Tabriz, neighboring several other historical structures in the city.

Agha Bozorg Mosque, Kashan:

Most know Kashan for its Fin Garden and historical houses like the Boroujerdi House and Tabatabaei House. However, in the city’s historical section, there exists one of Iran’s most beautiful mosques, known as the Agha Bozorg Mosque, often referred to as “the best Islamic complex in Kashan.” The mosque and school of Agha Bozorg, among the most magnificent mosques from the Qajar era, were established by Haj Mohammad Taghi Khanban. The entire structure, including its large brick dome, features embellishments such as tilework, exquisite inscriptions, muqarnas, calligraphy in Thuluth and Nasta’liq scripts, and paintings.

Goharshad Mosque, Mashhad:

Have you heard about the magnificent mosque south of the Imam Reza shrine? This astounding mosque is named Goharshad and has stunned many with its breathtaking architecture. Goharshad is a legacy of the Timurid dynasty and was brilliantly designed by one of Iran’s most famous architects, Ghavameddin Shirazi. Today, Goharshad is one of the most popular and beautiful mosques in Iran, and it’s among the top attractions in Mashhad. One of Goharshad’s ancient architectural features is its artistically crafted tilework.

The Shrine of Hazrat Masoumeh, Qom

If you’re passing through Qom, the shrine of Fatima Masoumeh (peace be upon her) will make you reconsider. This mesmerizing mosque, one of Iran’s renowned places of worship, is named after the sister of Imam Reza, the eighth Shia Imam. The shrine consists of three domes built during different periods: the Old Dome, the New Dome (Atabaki Dome), and the Dome of Sahib al-Zaman. The Old Dome, located in the northern section, boasts four magnificent porticos. The New Dome has four entrances – north, east, west, and south – each leading to separate entrances. Construction of the newest dome, the Dome of Sahib al-Zaman (peace be upon him), began in 2002 and concluded in 2005. The surrounding walls of this dome are adorned with Quranic inscriptions made of brick and white cement.

Rangooni Mosque, Abadan

The Rangooni Mosque is one of Iran’s most beautiful mosques and is one of the significant historical sites in Abadan, located near the Abadan Refinery. Indian architects designed this stunning mosque, resulting in its Indian architectural style. Reportedly, some construction materials, like dyes, were brought from India. This mosque features four small domes and two minarets. The exterior is decorated with colorful cement. While the mosque’s decoration may appear tilework, it is made of cement. Mirrors, traditionally used in Iranian architecture for palatial decoration, have been utilized in decorating the Rangooni Mosque. The structure, including its nocturnal prayer hall and central courtyard, is made of brick, sarong (traditional mortar), and lime plaster.

Vakil Mosque, Shiraz

Located in the western part of Vakil Bazaar is an old and beautiful mosque built during the Zand dynasty by Karim Khan Zand. The Vakil Mosque is broader than the Nasir al-Mulk Mosque and features 48 majestic columns and a pulpit with fourteen marble steps, epitomizing regal splendor and grandeur. This mosque is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful in Iran to visit. It is situated near Vakil Bazaar on Taleghani Street in Shiraz. Accessing it is straightforward, with ample public transportation options available. Visiting hours for the Vakil Mosque in Shiraz begin at 8:00 a.m. and continue until 8:30 p.m. The mosque is closed on public holidays.

Shafi'i Mosque, Kermanshah

Kermanshah is a captivating city, continually astonishing its visitors with its beauties. The Shafi’i Grand Mosque, one of these beauties, serves the Sunni community and is located along the city’s historic bazaar route. This mosque was built in 1966 on a site previously known as “Zaersara” by Sunni philanthropists under the supervision of Haj Mulla Seyyed Hossein Masoudi in 1965. Inspired by classic Ottoman mosques, the unique plasterwork inside, adorned with Quranic verses, enhances its beauty and spirituality. Another striking feature of the mosque is its unique Islamic architecture, decorated with various colors, patterned tiles, and windows covered with beautiful stained glass. Overall, the Shafi’i Mosque, with its majestic and towering minarets, has contributed to Kermanshah’s allure.

Amir Chakhmaq Mosque, Yazd

Amir Chakhmaq is one of the most renowned tourist destinations in Yazd and one of the historical squares in the country, shining like a jewel in the ancient fabric of the city. This square, boasting many attractions from markets to Husseiniyah (Tekyeh) and mosques, is a superb option for sightseeing, especially at night when it presents a breathtaking view. The most eye-catching part of this square is its three-story structure, which captivates tourists’ eyes before anything else. The three-story Amir Chakhmaq Mosque is among the most beautiful mosques in Iran and is situated on the eastern side of the square. Its age is estimated to be around 180 years. This brick structure has two large minarets, which are said to have been added during the Qajar era.

Jamkaran Mosque

The Jamkaran Mosque is located in the village of Jamkaran, about 6 kilometers from Qom, the second religious capital of Iran. Shiites believe that the construction of the Jamkaran Mosque is associated with Sheikh Hassan bin Mousleh Jamkarani. He claimed to have seen the twelfth Shiite Imam, Imam Mahdi, who instructed him to build the mosque during their encounter. Recently, this mosque has gained significant popularity among pilgrims, especially the youth. It’s believed that this man met with the twelfth Shiite Imam, Imam Mahdi, during which the Imam ordered the mosque’s construction. The Jamkaran Mosque has been renovated and restored several times since its construction. Before the Iranian Revolution, the mosque had a small structure, but it has expanded considerably since then.

Fahraj Grand Mosque

Get acquainted with the Fahraj Grand Mosque, the oldest mosque in Iran. This mysterious and ancient building is located in the village of Fahraj, approximately 600 kilometers southeast of Yazd. The Fahraj Grand Mosque has eight large columns reminiscent of Sassanian-era structures. There’s a clay minaret connected to the mosque’s rooftop via a spiral staircase. Like other Iranian mosques, it has multiple entrance doors. What’s intriguing about its architecture is its simplicity. You won’t see any additional designs or decorations. There are no colorful tiles, domes, alterations, or inscriptions. Its simplicity is genuinely the primary allure of this mosque. You’ll be amazed at how this structure can evoke a mysterious feeling in you.

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