Once in the Square in Esfahan, the Maydan Imam, the vista is somewhat dominated by two mosques. The Masjid-i Imam (formerly Masjid-i Shah and the Masjid-i Shaykh Lotfallah. I think that both Mosques are beautiful in their own way although some think garish in their decoration. Personally I love the bright blues, yellows and golds which are shown off at their best under a bright blue sky and clear sunlight. They are absolutely breath-taking.
Work on this mosque commenced in 1612 and was completed in 1638, almost 400 years ago. The mosaic and tile work is exquisite and all originals. The two minarets which tower over the Maydan are a sight to behold, but were in fact never used to “call for prayer”. This was done from a lower platform so that the muezzins couldn’t see into the royal gardens. The main prayer hall is particularly fascinating as, due to its construction, when standing in a particular spot marked with a stone slab and clap your hands, speak or click your fingers, the sound echoes seven times. Amazing-but be respectful of both where you are and other vistors.
Masjid-i Shaykh Lotfallah
Apparently, this building was not a “public” mosque, but was used as a mosque for the ladies of the royal harem and has no minarets. Again, the mosaics and tiles are beautifully preserved and the domes and columns are geometrically far in advance of anything I have seen before relating to this period in history. The decoration began in 1603, and was completed circa 1618. Again, this is an amazing piece of architecture but one does wonder how they lit and heated the rooms below ground level without creating a fire hazard or destroying the décor and carpets.