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Types of Mosque Architecture

Nassim Tabatabai, MD, provides consulting services to health, beauty, and


wellness companies both internationally and domestically through her role
as medical director at Beauty MD International. Outside of work, Nassim
Tabatabai enjoys learning about and viewing architecture. She especially
enjoys viewing famous mosques in Europe and Asia.
Mosque architecture can be divided into three main styles. The earliest type
of mosque is the hypostyle mosque, which is often referred to as an Arab
mosque. This type of architectural style features a low covered sanctuary
with a flat or pitched roof, and a large courtyard. The roof is generally
supported by regularly spaced columns or arcades. One of the most wellknown mosques in this style is the Great Mosque in Kairouan, Tunisia.
The four-iwan mosque type features a central courtyard as well as vibrant
color and geometric designs. Frequently called the Iranian mosque, this
style is arranged around an open courtyard, with each of its four walls
leading to a large vaulted hall, or iwan. The walls and domes of four-iwan
mosques are covered in organic designs, and often include various
inscriptions. One example of this type is the Great Mosque of Isfahan.
Finally, the Turkish or Ottoman mosque, also known as the centrallyplanned mosque, features supporting piers and a large dome. Ceilings are
typically fairly high, and the exterior is rather bleak due to its lack of color. In
addition to the mosques central dome, there are occasionally half domes

and smaller domes added to the ceilings and roofs. The Mihrimah mosque
in Istanbul is a popular example of a centrally-planned mosque.