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All the colors in the world: Nasir al-Molk, The Rainbow Mosque in Shiraz

 

Architects, artists, decorators and all kind of “Pantone-chipsters” go wild when the light hits this glorious place, one of the most intricate and impressive constructions in the world. In the exterior, the Nasir al-Molk Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, is a gorgeous, but rather a traditional building. Sometimes ignorance is really a blessing because when we don’t know beforehand about the kaleidoscope inside, the surprise is just overwhelming! The building is fairly known as the “Pink Mosque”, “Kaleidoscope Mosque”, and “Rainbow Mosque” and is a striking exception to the concept that historical structures lack in colors. Not only are its stained-glass windows brightly colored, but its walls and vault ceiling display a stunning and vibrant collection of painted geometric tiles forming gorgeous mandalas. The result is lively, hedonistic!

Domiri Ganji Iran Shiraz Pink Mosque Rainbow Mosque Kaleidoscope Mosque Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque . Credit: Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji
Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque . Credit: Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji
Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque . Credit: Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji Iran Shiraz Pink Mosque Rainbow Mosque Kaleidoscope Mosque
Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque. Credit: Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji
Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque . Credit: Mohammad Reza Iran Shiraz Rainbow Mosque Kaleidoscope Mosque Domiri Ganji
Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque. Credit: Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji
Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque . Credit: Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji Pink Mosque Iran Shiraz Rainbow Mosque Kaleidoscope Mosque
Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque. Credit: Mohammad Reza Domiri Ganji

The construction of the mosque started in 1876, during the Qajar dynasty, under the Lord Mirza Hasan Ali Nasir al Molk, and was completed in 1888. The stained glass windows catch the light of the rising sun and form stunning patches of deep colored light onto the floor. The effect is spectacular! Even though the decorative tiles are rose-colored, the “Pink Mosque” is actually home to all possible colors!

Mental post-it: Stained-glass is common in the Catholic church-building tradition but very rare in the Islamic world. For instance, besides Nasir al-Molk, just a couple of other mosques, such as the Masjid al-Aqsa, located in the Old City of Jerusalem, and the Sultan Ahmed Mosque, also known as Blue Mosque, in Istanbul, have stained-glass windows incorporated to the construction. The method is different, though. Stained glass windows in Catholic cathedrals are assembled with strips of lead, used as binders whereas Muslim masons used wooden strips with channels, where the glass was inserted.

 

The Nasir al-Molk is an important religious icon for the Muslim population and is considered  Iran’s second most important pilgrimage destination. Nasir al-Molk is a multipurpose religious site, serving as a funerary monument, a mosque and a sacred place for tens of thousands of worshippers.

Dive into its colors below:

 

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