The Shah Cheragh Mosque in Shiraz, Iran, isn’t your average mosque as alongside typical ceremonial functions it is also a mausoleum and burial place of a brother of the Shia Imam Ali Ibn Musa!
Although the exterior of Shah Cheragh Mosque is elaborate enough to get any traveler’s attention, the inside is where the all the action is. As with some of the more famous Persian mosques, one doesn’t know exactly what to expect when walking inside.
You’ll be happy to hear that this one is a real doozy… Prepare yourself for some major mind-blow! Come along with goingIRAN to see and discover more about one of the most beautiful places in Iran!
A Glimpse at Shah Cheragh’s History
Originally, the site of this magnificent Islamic monument is said to have been discovered by an ancient Ayatollah. It was through the distance that he saw a glowing green light coming from over the hills and houses.
As he and a few of his followers went to investigate, they were led to a grave in the nearby graveyard. When they excavated the grave that was emitting light, they discovered a body that was still wearing battle armor.
The corpse was also wearing a ring that that read “The pride belongs to god – Ahmad son of Musa”. Through that engraving, it became known that this was, indeed, the burial site of Musa Al Khadim’s sons.
This tale is where Shah Cheragh Mosque also got its name; shah meaning ‘king’ in Persian and cheragh translating to ‘light’. All put together the name in English would be ‘King’s Light Mosque’.
The tomb chamber, arcaded porch and dome were built in the 1130’s while the remaining parts of the structure were completed some 200 years later. It was Queen Tash Khatun (the mother of Shah Abu Ishaq Inju) that, aside from the buildings, also commissioned a thirty-volume Quran to be written with gold Islamic calligraphy.
The damage of a few heavy earthquakes have caused none of the earlier parts of the buildings to survive to this day. The gold-inscribed Quran, on the other hand, can still be found the Pars Museum in Shiraz!
The Mosque’s Striking Beauty
Walking into the Shah Cheragh Mosque area, tourists will first enter through the site’s portico. The mosque, on the western wing, has a magnificent exterior that is covered in the world renowned turquois, blue and yellow Persian tiles.
Tasteful and intricate floral patterns and scriptures from the Quran elegantly weave in and out through the mosque’s façade.
The architecture here is categorized as Azari style. The dome, minarets and shrine of the Shah Cheragh Mosque, especially, feature a spectacular display of very elegant classical Persian tilework.
Although the dome seen today isn’t the original (taken down due to damage), it’s been reconstructed in the exact same shape and design as before. Aside from the mausoleum, all four sides of the courtyard feature beautifully crafted arcades and columns that house a number of various tombs and rooms for prayers and ceremonies.
The Shining Shah Cheragh Mosque
All that glitters isn’t gold… It’s the gold, silver and hundreds of thousands of tiny little mirrors reflecting the light from giant crystal chandeliers that are glittering! If you thought the outside of Shah Cheragh Mosque was impressive, wait until you take a peak indoors.
Words often fall quite short in describing Shah Cheragh Mosque’s interior. Imagine something along the lines of being able to walk into a giant room, covered from wall to ceiling with diamonds and watching the light dancing among them with every step you take forward!
All around the three-meter-high solid silver tomb in the center of the “mirror hall”, spectators are left in awe. Even if you’re not a religious person, the ambience of this giant breathtaking hall will definitely have you contemplating about the existence of celestial beings.
All around the glistening sanctuary, visitors can hear the silent whispers of prayer and meditation. Some reading the Quran, some asking for help, and others just praying in their introspective silence.
Once you’ve come back down to earth, you might want to also consider squeezing in the beautiful neighboring Nasir Ol Molk Mosque as well. It’s walking distance away!
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