Iran’s Incredible Vakil Mosque

vakilmosquePhoto: dynamosquitoOutside view of the Vakil mosque

There are places of worship throughout the world that can claim to be extraordinarily beautiful in design and form. The Vakil Mosque in Shiraz, southern Iran, situated to the west of the Vakil Bazaar is just such a holy site.
Exquisite entrance door decoration
doorPhoto: Fabian Dany

Wonderful carving above entrance door facade
facadePhoto: Regent’s Mosque

This mosque was built between 1751 and 1773 during the Zand period of Iranian history. However, it was restored in the 19th century during the Quajar period. Vakil means ‘regent’, which was the title used by Karim Khan, the founder of the Zand dynasty. Shiraz was the seat of Karim Khan’s government and he endowed many buildings, including this mosque.

Stunning ceiling decoration inside the mosque
vakil2Photo: mostafa meraji

Vakil Mosque covers an area of 8,660 square meters. It has only two ‘iwans’ instead of the usual four, on the northern and southern side of a large open court. The iwans and court are decorated with typical Shirazi haft rangi tiles, a characteristic feature of the art and industry of Shiraz during the latter half of the 18th century.

Yet another glorious example of decorative work
vakil5Photo: mostafa meraji

The mosque’s night prayer hall (Shabestan), with an area of approximately 2,700 square meters, contains 48 monolithic pillars carved in spirals, each with a capital of acanthus leaves.

View of the superb Shabestan prayer hall
shabestanprayerhallPhoto: Avjvan

The minbar in this hall is cut from a solid piece of green marble with a flight of 14 steps and is considered to be one of the master pieces of the Zand period. The exuberant floral decorative tiles largely date from the Qajar period.
vakil4Photo: mostafa meraji

The carving and dedication of the builders to their craft can leave you gasping in wonder at the intricacy of their work. Every surface that could be molded into something else with hammer and chisel seems to have been worked on, and the overall effect is quite something.

Incredible carving on Shebasten Pillar
vakil3Photo: mostafa meraji

This place is, unsurprisingly, a popular tourist destination, and the area around it offers much more for the visitor to enjoy. If you enjoy visiting cathedrals and churches for their wealth of history and unbelievable beauty that can await you at every turn, then the Vakil Mosque should be high on the list of things you intend to see before you die. A truly unforgettable experience.

More of the intricate ceiling detail

vakil1Photo: mostafa meraji

My sincere thanks to Mostafa Meraji of Pachian for the use of his images.