Characteristics of Islamic architecture. Summary

Characteristics of Islamic architecture. Summary

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Among the most representative buildings of Islamic architecture we find the palaces, the mosques, the madrasas, the caravanserai (where pilgrims and merchants spend the night), the mausoleums and the baths.


If we talk about mosques, the impressive Mosque of Cordoba, although there are many spectacular around the world.

Mosques have their origin in the first house of Muhammad, which they replicate in design and form.

They are a basic meeting place and prayer, although it is not the residence of the god Allah or similar (in the manner of Greek temples), but only a place dedicated to prayer (not worship as Christian churches) on Fridays.

In this way, it obeys such a need. In mosques, too, justice was once dispensed and it was both the residence for the pilgrim and the school.

They are mainly divided into two parts: the haram, or the covered part, the enclosed space, and the sahn, the open space, a courtyard surrounded by an arcade.

The sabil, located in the sahn, is a fountain where the parishioners perform the sacred ablutions.

On the other hand we have the minaret or minaret, which can have plants of different shapes (circular, square ...) and serves for the muezzin or magnet to call to prayer.

The quibla It is the wall of the mosque directed in the direction of Mecca. There it is the mihrab, a small chapel or apse that indicates where the quibla is.

In addition to being the most decorated part, its function is for the muezzin to stand there to amplify his voice, although nowadays microphones are used.

The mimbar It is a structure that allows the caliph or the judges to stand higher.

General characteristics of Islamic architecture

The general characteristics of Islamic architecture could be summarized as follows: Islamic architecture is the synthesis of elements taken by the expanding Muslim warriors from all the sites they are conquering: Visigothic art, Hellenistic tradition, Persia, Bedouin , the Byzantines, etc.

How materials are used brick and masonry, and wood and plaster for decoration.

Rectangular plants without great height predominate (there is no colossalism), thus adapting to the measure of man.

Pillars and columns They stand out as supporting elements and the latter usually have simplified capitals of classical origin.

In Islamic architecture there are great variety of bows: horseshoe, pointed, multi-lobed, mixtilinear (quite complex). They are polychrome and are made with decorative and constructive purposes.

The covers are lintelled, vaulted (by Byzantine influence) and of bulbous domes (of Persian origin), which are used with great profusion.

The interiors stand out for the variety of their materials: plaster, tiles or marble, among others.

Color is very important in Islamic architecture and three main decorative motifs are used: atauriques (simplified vegetable figures), epigraphic (writing in Arabic with verses from the Koran and poems for teaching purposes) and geometric: schematization of nature.

Plaster muqarnas or stalactites in the shape of a prism are also used.

Image: StockPhotos on Shutterstock

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