Passing through the old bazaar of the 1001-nights-tale city of Yazd, at the end of a narrow paved alleyway, one of the excellent examples of Iranian mosques stands with dramatic lofty minarets at its portal. Azure blue tiles of the facade and two sky-touching minarets invite you for a real journey through Persian art and architecture.
Like many other mosques in Iran, Jame Mosque of Yazd was built at the location of a Sassanid fire temple which dated back to the 10th century. Different sections have been added to the mosque over time and made this monument one of the masterworks of mosques and main touristic attractions in Iran.
The central courtyard and sanctuary iwan belong to the 10th century. The dome chamber was erected in the Mongol ruling time (13th_14th), and the main portal of the mosque was constructed by order of Ilkhanid kings in the 15th century.
During the Safavid era, this mosque got its stunning 52-meter pair of minarets, some of the tallest ones around the Islamic world. At this time, the attractive blue tiles gave a unique character to the Jame Mosque.
Since Yazd, this recognized UNESCO World Heritage is located between desert lands of the central Iranian plateau, the high altitude and the exquisite blue colour of the mosque's minarets have helped people to find their way through the surrounding desert to the town.
And finally, the last widespread mending operations took place during the Qajar era (18th century), and the mosque got its present look.
Covering an area of 9,800 square metres, the grand congregational mosque of Yazd has a rectangular plan. Having seven different entrances, the main entryway of the mosque is on the eastern side. The other six entries open to the alleys of old neighbourhoods.
The large wooden door ushers you to the charming vestibule which owns many Moarraq tiling combined with decorated bricks. On your left, the high arched porch will catch your sight with striking patterns of 99 names of God (Allah) in Kufic script that are set vertically and horizontally by countless bricks and glazed tiles. Welcome to the chamber hall!
The chamber hall has one of the finest Mihrabs (an Islamic architectural element that shows the direction of Qibla to which Muslims say their prayers). The ceiling of the praying hall benefitted with exquisite calligraphic patterns depicting the holy names of prophet Muhammad and Ali, the first Shia Muslim's Imam.
The double-shelled dome has four squinches connecting the round dome to the walls that are designed with magnificent Muqarnas ornaments. The dome covered entirely with tiny pieces of turquoise tiles in a buff mud background and the Quranic verse belt in Kufic script doubled its beauty. As a museum, it exhibits various forms of glazed tiles, tile work techniques, and brick inscriptions.
This architectural masterpiece is upright and in use as the grand congregational mosque of Yazd since the 12th century. An exciting folk tale about the mosque is that the soil used in the construction of Mihrab was brought from the holy city of Karbala in Iraq and mixed with rose water from Kashan gardens to make mortar. That is why this sacred place is protected against any damage.
It is a perfect spot to start your tour around the old town. Taking an afternoon walk through the narrow and arched passages between the mud-brick garden of wind towers, sharing words with locals, having a cup of Iranian tea with mouthwatering traditional Yazdi sweets on rooftop cafés and enjoying the attractive view of the mosque and city lights are unique experiences you can have in Yazd.
By Samaneh Zohrabi