What does the name of Shiraz remind you of? For me personally, hearing the name of Shiraz, reminds me of the smell of orange flower at the beginning of Spring, its internationally famous poets Sa’di and Hafez, its unique and beautiful gardens and architecture, I picture Pasargadae and Persepolis. Generally, I see it as a bright city with innumerable beauties and attractions.
Iran is known to be a country of four seasons, meaning that in each and every one of the seasons, it experiences the characteristics of that season exactly when it should, to put in a shorter sentence, Iran’s weather and nature work like a clock, and everything happens at the time it is expected to happen. That’s also valid for its architecture. As the precious jewel of Iran’s architecture, Shiraz flaunts its beauty and wisdom by its diverse architecture. Where art and architecture come together to create breathtaking masterpieces.
As you may already know, Islamic architecture has been ingrained with Iranian architecture for many years now. And the best versions of it, are evident in the old mosques, mansions and palaces. Shiraz is the home to many of these structures and besides being the cultural capital of Iran, can also be considered to be the architectural capital of this ancient land.
The master of all of these mosques is the famous Nasir-ol-Molk Mosque. Walk with us, and let us be your guide in exploring this unique work of art and architecture.
Nasir-ol-Molk mosque is one of the most spectacular mosques in Iran, and is famous for its vibrant colourful glasses and unexampled tilings. It has also been named “The Pink Mosque of Iran”.
Nasir-ol Molk mosque is located in one of the old neighbourhoods of Shiraz, called “Goad-e-Oryan”. This neighbourhood which used to be called “Is’haq Beig”, is in the south of “Lotf-Ali Khan Zand” street, close to “Shah-Cheraq Mosque”, in the alley of “Nasir-ol Molk”. You will get lost in its beauty upon arrival. As soon as you step through the wooden door, the roses and Iris flowers tilings and stalactites catch your eyes. You will fall in love with it in the very first few seconds.
Wondering where “Pink Mosque” has come from? Here is the simple answer: Pink tiles which attracts the most attentions to itself.
After passing through the vestibule, you will enter a quadrangle courtyard. Beautiful tilings, big rectangle shaped pool in the middle of the courtyard, all and all are essential and inseparable parts of every mosque, and Nasir-ol-Molk mosque is no different. Once you step inside the bedchamber (Persian: Shabestan) of the mosque, you will realize the difference between this mosque from the other mosques and religious buildings you may have already seen. Sunlight passes through the colourful glasses, and make colourful shadows on the floors of Nasir-ol-Molk mosque.
Now, after 150 years, people still go there for their prayers. Nasir-ol-Molk mosque was registered as one of Iran’s National Monuments in 1955.
Mirza Hassan Ali Khan, the ruler of Fars, known as Nasir-ol-Molk, decided to build a mosque to be remembered by. So he ordered the construction of Nasir-ol Molk mosque. According to an inscription at the entrance of the mosque, “Haj Muhammad Hassan Memar” and “Mirza Reza Kaashi”, were in charge of building this mosque. There’s an old tradition in Islam which tells people to pay “alms tax” (Arabic and Persian: Zakat) and “one fifth of their annual income” (Arabic and Persian: Khoms), as a devotion to Islam. Which is believed to bring prosperity and blessings. The construction cost was provided from “Khoms and Zakat” gathered from the people.
The construction took 12 years to finish, and finally in 1925 Nasir-ol Molk mosque was ready for opening. At that time regular glasses were used, later in 1969 colour stained glasses were installed by a person called “Mirza Ayat” and replaced the old glasses.
Early on, a mosque, a house, a bathhouse and a cellar were included in this complex, but later and during the construction of the new street of “Lotf Ali Khan Zand”, a vast area consisting of the inner courtyard of the house, the house entrance, bathhouse, cistern and the route from the house to the mosque were destructed and no sign of them can be seen.
Mirza Hassan-Ali Khan Nasir ol- Molk, were from a well-known family of “Ghavam Shirazi”, and son of “Ghavam ol-Molk”. They were considered one of the noble families during Qajar era. Nasir-ol-Molk were the ruler of Fars and Shiraz during the reign of “Naser al Din Shah Qajar” and was well known for his righteous and fair personality. Sa’di town, a big farm in the suburbs of Shiraz, several villages in the city of “Beiza”, and several other villages around “Fasa” and “Sarvestan”, were of the the many properties and realties, late Nasir-ol-Molk owned. He then devoted all of his properties to the charity affairs. Today the trusteeship of “Nasir-ol Molk endowment” belongs to his grandchildren, and the revenue earned from his properties are still spent for charity affairs.
Maintenance and restorations of Nasir-ol-Molk mosque have started years ago and is still ongoing. It has been through two series of repairs, one around 70 years ago which included the repairing of floor coverings and second period of restorations were done in a period of 15 years, from 1991 to 2016.
Restorations are more or less ongoing, and their costs are provided from, the revenues earned from the mosque’s endowment and Nasir-ol-Molk endowment.
Reinforcement of the foundation, retrofitting of the structure, filling the cracks, building moisture excretion channels, reinforcing the main shell of the walls of the northern porch, renovation of water channels and complete reparation of the interior walls are the maintenance works that have taken place.
Nasir-ol-Molk mosque is built on a 2890 m2 with 2216 m2 foundation. Two of the significant characteristics of this mosque are its eye-catching tilings and stalactites and in this regard it is considered to be the most valuable mosque in Iran.
There’s an interesting point about this mosque, and that is that, there is no dome included in the construction of the mosque, which might refer to the fact that, this religious place was intended for personal use, and public didn’t use this place.
The exclusivity of the tiling is using pink as the dominant color, which is not seen in any other mosque in Iran. The stalactites are elegantly done, which are second to none in their own kind. The structure of the bedchamber (Persian: Shabestan), and their coloured glasses, charms the visitor even more.
Nasir-ol-Molk mosque is divided into six parts. We’re going through each of them very briefly, and leave you to go and explore more for yourself.
Nasir-ol Molk mosque is connected to southern alley and the neighbouring Imam -Zadeh via two entrance doors. The main door is made of wood, framed with a stone, with arabesque embellishments. There’s also a monolith stone and sharp arc at the top. A poem from “Shoorideh Shirazi” (buried at the tomb of Saadi), is carved on a marble stone, along with the completion date of the project. Stalactites and painted tiles, decorates the roof of the big arch. Its equilateral arch is made of wheat-coloured marble. The majority of the tilings are in pink and blue, together they make roses and Shiraz Iris flower patterns. The portal sits on two pillars, and there is a tableau made from painted tiles on top of it.
After passing through the entrance, you will reach the vestibule. The light comes from reticulated window. Vestibule plays an important role in Persian architecture and is included in religious and non-religious structures. This part of structure tends to provoke the curiosity of the visitor. Nasir-ol-Molk’s vestibule is made from brick, and there’s also a tableau made of painted tiles, similar to the one on the entrance. At the bottom of this colourful tableau, there’s a famous poem of Saadi and the name of the architect.
Corridors are also essential and inseparable parts of Persian architecture. Make a 90 degrees turn to the left from the vestibule and you will enter a dark corridor. The secret behind including corridors in old structures, was to lead the person from the vestibule to a dark place, with the purpose of gradually letting the eyes get used to the dimming light and be welcomed with a beautiful courtyard. Reaching to bright courtyard from a dark place, could be a metaphor of “An end to darkness”.
To the north of this quadrilateral courtyard, you will see the mosque’s actual building. In the middle of the courtyard and in front the mosque, a 16.5 m in 4.5 m pool is built. All around the mosque is covered with painted tiles.
Nasir-ol-Molk mosque has two narrow arcades. These two different arcades face each other.
1. Northern Arch:
Also known as “Pearl Arch” (Persian: Taq-e-Morvarid) and “Alcove” (Persian: Shah-Neshin) is 8 meters in height. Everyone assume that the bedchamber (Persian: Shabestan) of the mosque, is the most beautiful part of the mosque, with its colourful glasses, but in reality, this Pearl Arch is the most spectacular part of this mosque, in terms of architecture and patterns.
Interior and exterior of this arch is covered with painted tiles, and verses of Quran all over it. Stalactites are beautifully worked on the roof of the Pearl Arch.
2. Southern Arch
The only purpose of building this Arch, was to mirror the Northern Arch. It’s shorter in height comparing to the northern arch, and the interior and exterior tilings and its roof are exactly like the northern arch. There are two minarets on top of the southern arch, which makes it asymmetrical to the northern arch.
On the sides of the main arch, there are two smaller arcades. Each of them have doors, unequal in size. One of these doors opens to a small room, and the other one leads to the minarets. This is what has made the southern arch asymmetrical to the northern arch.
A roofed space, with identical and parallel columns is called the “Shabestan” of a mosque. It leads to the central courtyard from one side. Nasir-ol-Molk mosque, has two bedchambers, and unlike the majority of mosques, are in alignment with the axis of kiblah, due to the mosque’s orientation.
1. Eastern Bedchamber
You can witness the glory of simplicity in this part of the mosque. Eastern bedchamber is considered a winter bedchamber. The museum of endowment inside this part of the mosque, is accessible via the frontal porch. This porch which consists of two pillars, made with 7 bricks, is segregated from the main courtyard with 8 arcades. The walls and forehead of the arch is decorated with verses of Quran and floral tilings.
Seven plain and simple columns stand in the eastern bedchamber. At the back of the Shabestan, a door opens to what is known to be the “Cow Well” (Persian: Gav Chah), and it refers to the water pulled up from the well, with the help of animals. During summer they would tie the cows to the well, so they would pull water out of the wells. The water was used for drinking and watering purposes.
Another element of this area is a corridor. The dates of starting and finishing the construction and the name of the architects of this mosque are written on a tableau placed in this corridor. A poem of Saadi, embellishes this tableau.
2. Western Bedchamber (Persian: Shabestan)
The most spectacular place of this mosque the is Western Bedchamber or the Summer Bedchamber (Persian: Shabestan-e- Tabestani). This bedchamber is considered to be one of the most beautiful bedchambers, among the other mosques of Iran. Wheat coloured stones are used in this part of the mosque. The masonry and the decorations of this bedchamber is imitated from the Vakil Mosque of Shiraz. Arcs and walls of the western Shabestan have been decorated with beautiful tilings and the floor is covered with turquoise tiles and interior brick walls. The ceiling is embellished with floral and arabesque patterns and verses of Quran.
Rose patterns which used to be seen in here, were concealed by turquoise tiles during a renovation that took place 70 years ago.
Thick, spiral shaped stone columns, are standing in 2 rows of 6. The logic behind these 12 columns, refers to the 12 Shia Imams. At the back of this bedchamber, there’s an altar. Floor of the altar is covered with marble stone and is built at a lower level from the floor of the Shabestan itself.
The western chamber has 8 wooden doors, beautifully decorated with colourful stained glasses, and they all open to the main courtyard.
Nasir-ol-Molk mosque owes its popularity to its colourful glasses.
This rainbow effect is master Haj Mirza Ali’s work of art.
Shiraz is famous for its spring and the smell of sour orange tree blossoms. So spring is considered a high season for Shiraz. But during any season, you will have so much to do in the cultural capital of Iran.
In order to fully witness the fun that the coloured glasses are having with the sunlight, you should visit the mosque before 9am. Although the mosque might be crowded from 8-10 am but it’s all worth it. Best time for taking pictures of the western bedchamber, is from the second half of autumn to the first half of winter, but you need be an early bird and be there from 7 to 9 am.
Best photography timing for the Pearl Arch is in the afternoon.
The opening hours differ in the first six months from second half of the year:
First six months: 7am to 7:30 pm
2nd six months: 7:30 am to 6 pm
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Regarding accommodation, there are plenty of options to choose from in Shiraz. In order to find the best hotel that matches your criteria in Shiraz or in any other city, you can book your hotel through Iran Negin Travel. We will handle the reservations and will recommend inner city tours for Shiraz and other cities as well.
Nasir-ol-molk Mosque Mosque is one the most beautiful mosques in Iran and of the most important sight in Shiraz along with Eram Garden, Vakil Bath, Vakil Bazaar, Karimkhan Citadel, Tomb of Saadi and Tomb of Hafez. Thorugh our Iran tour packages you can visit every single important sights in Iran and Shiraz. Our Iran tour packages are made to plan your trip to Iran with unique services. We can make your trip to Iran a wonderful trip. Our daily city tours in Shiraz can also provide you the best services!
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Summer time: 07:00 - 19:30
Winter time: 07:30 - 18:00