As one of the world’s leading religions, Islam is known for a number of positive contributions to society. From food to science and culture, Muslims have been a driving force in many different fields. However, Muslims have also left their mark on the physical landscape, with thousands of mosques, tombs, and other architectural treasures scattered across the globe.
The architecture of Muslim empires and cities is a mix of cultural traditions. In fact, Islamic art is characterized by an eclectic combination of motifs, techniques, and forms from diverse sources.
For centuries, Muslims have created some of the richest and most beautiful architecture in the world. But what makes it so different? If you are interested in architecture yourself, these buildings and characteristics can give you great inspiration. However, you may be wondering what does an architect do exactly?
You will need the right education in order to learn architectural principles and how they create such mesmerizing structures. This article will give you all the information you need to know about traditional Muslim architecture and gain an understanding of why these structures are so rich and beautiful, as well as how they’re built.
The Alhambra (الحمراء al-ħamrā’, lit. “the red one”, from the color of its buildings) is a palace and fortress complex located in Granada, Andalusia, Spain. It was originally constructed as a small fortress in 889 by the Moorish rulers of the area, then greatly expanded over the centuries by the Muslim rulers of the territory. The Alhambra is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the inspiration for many songs and stories.
The Alhambra was originally constructed from the 8th century onwards. It is the most important monument of Moorish architecture in Spain, consisting of a number of palaces and fortresses surrounding the Alhambra citadel.
The Taj Mahal, located in Agra, India, is considered to be one of the most beautiful buildings ever built. The Taj Mahal was also the preferred burial place of Queen Arjumand Bano Begum, more commonly known as Mumtaz Mahal. She was the wife of Mughal emperor Shah Jahan and died giving birth to their 14th child.
The Taj Mahal is considered to be one of the Eighth Wonders of the World. It took 20,000 workers and 1,000 elephants to build this architectural masterpiece.
Masjid Permata Qolbu, Jakarta
The Mosque is the largest Mosque in Indonesia and one of the largest in Southeast Asia. It was originally built in 1610, but the current structure was completed in 2000.
The Mosque is located in the Senen subdistrict of Central Jakarta. The complex contains the main prayer hall, a library, an Islamic museum, a Qur’an school, four minarets, and the main dome as high as 65 meters.
Muslim Architecture characteristics
Interior decorative elements – ornamental tiles
Islamic monuments have various interior decorative elements, and ornamental tiles are unique to the art of decorating buildings in the Islamic world. In fact, the Arabic word for the decorative tile is “Filigree Tile.”
The use of ornamental tiles started at the end of the 2nd century AH/8th century CE and the beginning of the 3rd century AH/9th century CE. Ornamental tiles were used in the decoration of mosques, palaces, public baths, Madrasas, mausoleums, and even houses.
Radiant colors and patterns
The evolution of Islamic architecture has come a long way from the heavy, earthbound brick of the early mosques to the light and airy structures of the Islamic world today. The transition began in the ninth century when architects started to use brick and stucco to create the illusion of stone. They used delicate patterns to fill the space between the bricks and stucco, and they painted the walls with bright colors, making the interior of the Mosque seem like a garden filled with flowers.
Arches, domes, minarets, and Muqarnas
The development of Islamic architecture in the 9th century CE led to the emergence of elaborate structures with geometric patterns, floral motifs, and calligraphy.
This was a reflection of the intermingling of peoples and cultures as well as the diversity of the Islamic world at this time, with the new ideas being incorporated from the outside world. This process of cultural interaction and cross-fertilization is evident in the architecture of the Alhambra.
As mentioned above, built in the mid-13th century CE, this palace was the culmination of the Moorish style, with its intricate geometric patterns, floral motifs, and calligraphy, and was, according to the art historian André Grabar, ‘the most complete artistic expression of the Muslim genius’.
Muqarnas vaults are found in all kinds of buildings, from small private houses to major mosques and shrines, and they can cover entire buildings or serve as an interior element, like a dome. A Muqarnas vault is made up of many smaller units, which are called Muqarnas.
A Muqarnas is usually a right triangular pyramid with a rectangular base, made of three or more tiers of cells. The cells can be squarish or polygonal. The topmost tier is sometimes decorated with a Kufic or zodiacal band or with a stylized floral or geometric design.