Sheikh Lotfollah Mosque is one of the architectural masterpieces of Safavid Iranian architecture, standing on the eastern side of Naqsh e jahan squer, Isfahan. Construction of the mosque was started by the command of Shah Abbas in 1603 and was finished in 1619. It was dedicated to his father-in-law, Sheikh Lotfollah, a prominent religious scholar and teacher who came to Isfahan at the orders of Shah Abbas.
This beautifully proportioned and decorated mosque, with some of the best mosaics from that era, took nearly 20 years to complete. The pale tiles of the dome change color, from cream through to pink, depending on the light conditions. The mosque is unusual because it has no minaret or courtyard and because steps lead up to the entrance. This was probably because the mosque was never intended for public use, but rather served as the worship place for the women of the shah’s harem.
The sanctuary or prayer hall is reached via a twisting hallway where the eyes become accustomed to the darkness as subtle shifts of light play across deep blue tile work. This hallway is integral to both the design and function of the mosque because it takes the worshipper from the grand square outside into a prayer hall facing Mecca, and thus on a completely different axis.
The “peacock” figure at the center of the interior side of the dome is one of the unique characteristics of the mosque. If you stand at the entrance gate of the inner hall and look at the center of the dome, a peacock can be seen, whose tail is the sunrays coming in from the hole in the ceiling.
Inside the sanctuary you can marvel at the complexity of the mosaics that adorn the walls and the extraordinarily beautiful ceiling, with its shrinking, yellow motifs. The shafts of sunlight that filter in through the few high, latticed windows produce a constantly changing interplay of light and shadow.
The mihrab is one of the finest in Iran and has an unusually high niche. There are two small inscriptions in Persian language on two sides of mihrab’s wall, showing name of the architect saying “a poor humble man begging the mercy of Allah, Ostad Horrian builder from Isfahan”.