Introduction to the Vakil Mosque
The Vakil Mosque (Masjed-e Vakil) is one of the historical monuments of Shiraz, which belongs to the Zand period. During the Zand period, Karim Khan Zand ordered the construction of the vast complex of Vakil, and according to his order, the Vakil Bath, Vakil Bazaar and Vakil Mosque were built. The Vakil Mosque, also known as Soltani Vakil Mosque, is located between the Bazaar and Vakil Bath and used to be a place of Friday prayers.
History of the Mosque
Shiraz was the capital of Karim Khan, so he took many measures for the development and prosperity of the city. Vakil Mosque, Vakil Bath, and Vakil Bazaar are remnants of the time known as the Vakil Complex, and the mosque dates back to 1774 A.D. Ancient Persian writings show that the architects and builders of the Vakil Mosque engaged in the construction of the religious building at the same time as the construction of the square and bazaar. And according to the available evidence, the first reconstruction of the mosque dates back to the Qajar period, done by Hossein Ali Mirza Farmanfarma, son of Fath-Ali Shah Qajar. During various years, Vakil Mosque has undergone several reconstructions, the most important of which is the restoration of the mosque tiles by the Antiquities Organization.
The architecture of Vakil Mosque
The architecture of the Zand period, along with many similarities with the architecture of the Safavid period or even other periods, has also benefited from its distinction and individuality. After the Persians converted to Islam, the construction of religious buildings became popular, and a new style of architecture called Islamic architecture emerged, so mosques built at that time can be considered the most famous historical buildings in Iran. Among them, Vakil Mosque is the peak of Persian architecture.
Vakil Mosque has an area of more than 11,000 square meters with 8,660 meters of infrastructure. The name of its architect has not been mentioned in historical sources. The different parts of the Vakil Mosque include the entrance, corridor, courtyard, large Shabestan, winter Shabestan, mihrab, the marble Minbar (pulpit), backyard, two porches (Iwans), and a high and majestic arch called the Pearl Arch (the Taq-e Morvarid) and various other parts.
The Mosque Iwan
The mosque design contains two porches (Iwans) and two Shabestans (prayer hall), south and east. The southern Shabestan with integrated and spiral stone columns is one of the characteristics of Persian architecture and one of the scenic areas of the mosque, which include 48 strong stone columns with the design and role of the Zand period. One of the magnificence of the Shabestan is the 14 integrated green marble stairs, which were brought to Shiraz from Maragheh by Karim Khan Zand to be used in the mosque.
The Decorative Elements of Persian architecture in the Mosque
To enter the mosque, you must go to the north, but before entering the courtyard, the stunning tiles and Muqarnas on both sides of the entrance will attract your attention. From here, when you go to the mosque, two corridors to the left and right lead you into the mosque. The entrance door of the Vakil Mosque in Shiraz consists of two lintels. The large entrance door includes more than 8 meters high and about 3 meters wide, also known as the main door of the building, and is located at the end of the Swordsmen Bazaar.
The magnificent door opens towards an octagonal corridor containing a ceiling full of eye-catching and delightful drawings, which include a pleasant and exceptional image, utilizing tiles with flower and shrub patterns that have formed the gorgeous phrase of La Ilaha Illallah in the Kufic script. Vakil Mosque includes extraordinary and unique carvings and inscriptions in Nastaliq, Naskh, and Thuluth lines. Also, the attractive building contains the spectacular variety of tilings, such as the tiling of the courtyard and the north and south porches (Iwans), which are exquisite and have used seven-coloured mosaics tiles in the mosque. The precision in architecture in the period when Persia was in its heyday in architecture is admirable and praiseworthy.
Pearl Arch of Vakil Mosque
The northern part of Vakil Mosque contains a high arch known as the Pearl Arch (the Taq-e Morvarid), which is built on top of two tiled Goldastes (Minarets) with 20 meters high and 12 meters wide. The plinth of the porch (Iwan) is covered with carved and painted stones, and above it is decorated with seven-coloured tiles with floral and plant motifs, Arabesque and Toranj. Also, there is an inscription in the inner part of the arch, on which verses of the Qur’an are engraved in the Thuluth line.