Tag Archive | Mosque

More adventures in Iran

I will soon be able to resurrect my other Blog “Persian Posts”  as we have now booked our tickets for our next visit to Iran. This time we are taking William with us and I am relieved that his Visa came through just this week so we can plan properly.

It will be an amazing experience for him especially as it is his first time in Iran but we will try and prepare him as best we can. Of course, nothing can prepare him fully for the different culture, food, weather, family, customs etc but there are certain things we do need to go through with him before we land in Esfahan.

William is looking forward to his trip, as am I, and I hope he loves the country and its people as much as I do. There are not many Western boys of his age that get this opportunity and we will try and show him as much of the country as is possible in the 3 weeks we are there and in temperatures up into the 90’s.

The good thing is that Feri’s nephew is exactly the same age and they will be housed together on the self-contained second floor-God help us! I have packed a spare English-Farsi vocabulary book so here’s hoping they manage to communicate! We will be there during the World Cup and as both love football I am sure that we will witness the evidence that football is a truly global language!

In the meantime, Will has his A Level exams to finish and his last school Prom to navigate so he is going to be busy. I have marked out a few things and places that I would like to see this year so look out for more Persian Posts coming soon!





The colourful ladies of Abyaneh

I am by nature an early riser but it has to be something pretty special to coax me out of my bed at 4.00am and I was hoping that today wouldn’t disappoint as I rolled out of bed and into the shower this morning. We were off to Abyaneh, a famous Iranian “historic village” then skirting the central desert via Natanz to Kashan. I was not to be disappointed.

Abyaneh is a remote settlement nestled high in the Karkas mountains and it’s red. The houses are built from the red-ochre coloured mud which gives them their distinct appearance and they butt into the steep slopes so that there are no back gardens and the emphasis is very much on the house fronts. We didn’t get to see inside a house but apparently there are no stairs becuase they use the natural slope of the mountain to climb between stories.

Most of the original carved wooden doors remain intact and when you look closely you will see that most doors have two knockers-one for men the other for women. This enables the person indoors to tell by the knock whether the visitor is a man or a woman (rarely is the “wrong” knocker used).

Unusually for an Islamic community, women enjoy equal rights with men and traditionally this has meant that many have not married until they are at least thrity and no more than three children are born to a family. Perhaps this emancipation is why the ladies of Abyaneh are famous for their bright coloured clothes an unusual feature for Islamic women and something which the colourful ladies of Abyaneh have resisted despite several attempts by the government to change this.

Sadly most of the houses are deserted now and the younger villagers have moved away, many abroad. Tourists flock in droves to see the village and its remaining residents, especially the colourful ladies and whilst when we arrived at 7.30am there were few other visitors by the time we left at 10.30am hundreds more had arrived and there was nowhere to park.  It was clearly good planning to get up at 4.00am and I was pleased that we had done so.

Some of the ladies are more willing to be photographed than others and I always asked before taking a photo respecting those who did not want to be. I fully understand their reluctance. At best it’s a nuisance, but it can be invasive and inappropriate so asking first is a must even if you don’t like the answer. One particularly bright and bubbly lady happily posed for photographs and even insisted that we join her on some of our pictures.  Her enthusiasm became clear when she asked if we could send the pictures by email to her daughter who lives in Europe! I had to laugh but gladly we wrote down the email address and tonight I will be sending her pictures to someone, somewhere in Italy!

 Other attractions in the village include the Congregational Mosque with a fabulous inlaid door. Sadly the mosque was closed so I was unable to see the painted ceiling which I had read about. The mausoleum ( “Holly Shrine” per the road sign) is also worth a visit if only for the views across the mountains from the verandah and its blue mosaic cone roof also shines out amongst the mass of red.

Abyaneh is an interesting place to while away a few hours and I was surprised to learn that we had been there for three hours. I was sad to leave without seeing more of the buildings further up the hill but it was getting very busy and we had places to go and things to see in Kashan.

Fin Gardens.

Esfahan Masjids (mosques)


Paisley-gilded domes
Bold ceramics, veined marble
Vivid, holy hues

Mosaic tile montages
Sudden alien patterns
God alone flawless

Vaulted symmetry
Seven echoes resonate
Line and form, perfect

Green at dusk Azaan
Twin minarets. Sentinels.
Muezzin summons.

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Esfahan-the mosques


Iran-Esfahan mosques

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.

Masjid-i Imam

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.