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The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque Hosts a Kaleidoscopic Play of Lights Reflecting the Morning Sun

BY Dipanjana Mukherjee July 1, 2020
The interior of the Nasir-al-Mulk Mosque.

The interior of the Nasir-al-Mulk Mosque. (Diego Delso/License CC-BY-SA)

In Shiraz, Iran, the Nasir al-Mulk mosque is a testament of the extremely vibrant culture of this city, which happens to be one of the oldest in southern Iran. This beautiful piece of architecture, also known as the ‘Pink Mosque’, is visited by thousands of people from around the world every year.

The origin of the Nasir al-Mulk mosque

The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque was built between the years 1876 and 1888, under the rule of the Qajar dynasty of Iran. Construction started in the year 1876, under the orders of the Qajar ruler, Mirza Hasan Ali, also known as Nasir al-Mulk, after whom the mosque was named. The mosque was designed by two individuals; Mohammad Hasan-e- Memar and Mohammad Reza Kashi- Paz- e- Shirazi.

Nasir al mulk exterior

The courtyard of the mosque. (Matt Biddulph/Wikimedia Commons)

A mosque of many names

The Nasir al-Mulk is also known as the ‘Pink Mosque’ due to the pinkish rose-coloured tiles of the mosque. However, it is also known by various other names like ‘Rainbow Mosque’, ‘Mosque of Colours’, as well as  ‘Kaleidoscope Mosque’, because of the plethora of colours that are reflected when the light hits the stained glass.

The architectural beauty of the mosque

The Nasir al-Mulk mosque has a mesmerising atmosphere that captivates onlookers. This famous mosque has breathtakingly beautiful stained glass windows, and the walls have colourful geometric tiles that are equally stunning. The door at the entrance of the Nasir al-Mulk mosque is embellished with seven colour tiles and is known as the “haft rang”.

tiles of Nasir al Mulk mosque

The colourful tiles of Nasir al Mulk mosque. (Ninara/Flickr)

The tiles of the mosque are an unusual and dark shade of blue which adds to the exhilarating beauty of the mosque. The best time to visit the mosque is in the morning between 9 am and 11 am, when the light reflects the stained glass windows on the floor of the mosque. The light causes the windows to form beautiful and vibrant coloured patterns on the tiled floors. Other than the phenomenal stained glass windows, the ceiling of the mosque is covered in exotic tiles that are a pinkish rose in colour. There are Persian rugs that cover the floor of the mosque, and the inside of the mosque is polychromatic and visually brilliant to look at.


A panoramic view of the mosque’s interior. (Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji/Wikimedia Commons)

Koach, who is a Japanese photographer, spoke about the mosque, and its enthralling beauty. He said,

You can only see the light through the stained glass in the early morning. It was built to catch the morning sun, so that if you visit at noon it will be too late to catch the light.”

The mosque also has an outer portal, though it is rather small, where one can see some admirable muqarnas (a kind of ornamental vaulting structure, usually seen in Islamic architecture). It also consists of an Iwan in the north, which is a vaulted rectangular space and is covered in three sides. Within the mosque, there is a courtyard, with a rectangular pool built in the centre, and is surrounded by various kinds of beautiful flower bushes.

Read more: Mind-blowing photos of Iran from 1999

Nasir al Mulk muqarnas

The vault at Nasir al Mulk. (dynamosquito/Flickr)

The Nair al-Mulk Mosque has two shabestans (an underground space), one on the east and one on the west. The eastern  shabestan consists of an altar made up of beautiful tiles and is accompanied by twelve columns and several stained-glassed windows. This structure was typically used during the summers, as it had been built in a way that would keep the interiors cool during very hot days. The niches, or the mihrab of the mosque, have been beautifully adorned, along with the intricate arches that leave visitors stunned.

There is a consonance between the columns, the arches, the muqarnas, as well as the mihrab of the mosque which inspires awe among all visitors alike.

The Nasir al-Mulk mosque is, perhaps, one of the best examples of a blend between both traditional and modern Islamic heritage. The many traditional Islamic features of the mosque include the Panj kaseh-i (five concaves), faience, a central fountain, plaster works, as well as an iwan. However, stained glass windows are a rare occurrence when it comes to traditional mosques.

Nasir al-Mulk a heritage site

The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, or the Pink Mosque, is one of Iran’s most prestigious heritage sites and most tourists who visit the country make it a point to visit this architectural marvel. The mosque makes for a source of inspiration for travellers, worshippers, and photographers alike. Despite being a huge tourist attraction, the mosque continues to be used for worship as well. It is now under the protection of Nasir al Mulk’s Endowment Foundation and is the pride and joy of Shiraz.

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