Introduction to Goharshad Mosque
Mosques have long been considered an essential element in human society and various ways. Persian mosques are one of the unique sights in the country, showing the development of Persian art with Islamic taste throughout history. Goharshad Mosque is located in the south of the holy shrine of Imam Reza with a great blue dome in the city of Mashhad and is one of the largest mosques in Astan Quds Razavi. In addition to the historical and political importance of the building, its marvelous architecture dazzles every viewer’s eyes.
History of Goharshad Mosque
In the eighth century, during the reign of the Timurids, Gawhar Shad or Goharshad was the daughter of one of the great Timurid kings, Amir Ghyath al-Din Tarkhan, who at the age of 16 married Shah Rukh, the eldest son of Timur and his successor. Gohar Shad was a very religious and chaste woman who ordered a grand and glorious mosque to be built near the shrine of Imam Reza in 1416 AD so that she would be buried after her death. The construction of the building was completed in 1419 AD. G0harshad was one of the famous women of the Timurid period who did a lot of service to the people during her husband’s rule and was ultimately assassinated in Herat. With the construction of this mosque, her name will last forever.
There are many legends about the construction process of the mosque, perhaps the most famous of which is the love story of a young worker. Gawharshad, while observing the construction of the mosque, caused a young worker to fall in love with her and express his love. But Gohar Shad asked him to fast for forty days and not to leave the house. After forty days, the young worker was freed from earthly love and had found the true lover.
Architecture of Goharshad Mosque
The chief architect of the mosque was Ghavameddin Shiraz, one of the most famous architects of the Timurid period. The building is in the architectural style of four-porch mosques that are built symmetrically to each other. The mosque, where has a square plan, contains two entrances and exits. Moreover, the building of the mosque includes eight large porches and seven naves. Dome-shaped arches and graceful minarets make the construction eye-catching. The mosque’s minarets are in the style of Mogharnas, beside the mosaics of the Timurid era that have made the mosque more attractive. Other extraordinary features of the mosque are the plasterings with yellow and blue colours, which are among the principal colours of Islamic art. Also, you can see Quranic verses and various hadiths engraved on the tiles with a brilliant Thuluth script inside.
The turquoise dome of Goharshad Mosque is one of the most magnificent domes among Persian mosques, which reaches a height of 41 meters embellished with an inscription in Kufic script. The dome of the mosque is above the porch.
Maghsure Iwan (Porch)
Maghsure Iwan is the grand porch of the Goharshad mosque located in its southern part. The dome of Gawhar Shad Mosque is on this porch, and the famous pulpit of the mosque, known as the pulpit of Sahib al-Zaman (the final Imam of the Twelver Shia Imams), is also there. The historical inscription of Baysunghur (grandson of Gohar Shad and one of the best calligraphers of the Thuluth script) is superbly placed on the Iwan’s forehead. If you look at the porch, you can see the date of the mosque’s construction on mosaic tiles. One of the most fascinating and prominent parts of the porch is the marble altar, around which inscriptions with Quranic verses and dazzling mosaic tiles are decorated.
Simple Iwan (Porch)
The simple porch is located parallel to the Maghsure Iwan in the northern part of the mosque and is full of the virtue of Islamic art, especially calligraphy. One of the most striking features of the building is its forehead decorated with a kind of inscription that refers to the restoration of the building during the reign of Shah Abbas Safavid. The walls of the north Iwan are decorated with various tiles and are a specific place for men to enter the shrine of Imam Reza.
From ancient times, the eastern porch has been known as the Haj Hassan Iwan, which also leads to the porch of Imam Khomeini. The tiles are also embellished with inscriptions in the Kufic script.
The fourth porch in Gawhar Shad Mosque is the west one that was connected to the Grand Bazaar in the past. The west porch is the same as the east one, and the arches are decorated with Banayi script of verses from the Holy Quran. The porch was known as the Water Iwan due to the passage of the water canal to the mosque.
Goharshad Mosque contains seven small and large unique naves. The naves are roofed spaces with many columns and connected to the mosques’ main courtyard. But what is fascinating in such a building’s naves is their intertwined Jack-arch type roofing (Tagh-zarbi). These naves are built symmetrically around the four principal porches of the mosque and own several names in different periods. Generally, naves have been used in mosques for congregational prayers. At present, in addition to holding prayers, cultural activities are also held in nurseries.
The pulpit of Sahib al-Zaman
Sahib al-Zaman pulpit with its unique inlaid art is in the south of Maqsure porch, a high pulpit made of walnut and pear wood in 1828 by the Fath Ali Shah Qajar’s order.