Great Mosque of Isfahan, Isfahan Iran, 11-17th Centuries
Transformed from a hypostyle to 4-Iwan plan mosque, this prominent expression of Seljuk rule in Persia revolutionized Mosque architecture. A practicing Sunni Islam mosque, the structure spans the shift from the Seljuk to early Safavid period in Iran. It was in the 12th century when the Buyid hypostyle mosque was transitioned into a 4-Iwan plan under the Seljuks. The 4-Iwan would revolutionize mosque architecture becoming becoming the dominant international mosque style. A major distinguishing factor of the Isfahan mosque was its integration in the urban fabric, its many gates and entrances blurred the boundary between city and mosque space. It would be central to the city’s urban fabric until Shah Abbas built a new maydan in the 17th century. The 4 iwans differ in size and decoration - the SE iwan featuring Safavid tile work and a mihrab with muqarnas vaulting on the qibla wall. The Great Mosque is a masterpiece of brick architecture and its decorative program makes it a highlight of the Seljuk style. This building highlights the Seljuk dynasty moving into Persia and adopting its building plans and decorative programs.