The intermingling of tradition and the 21st century immediately capture the attention of the nearly 3.2 million visitors to the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi each year. The columns pictured above are only a few of the 96 in the main prayer hall, but an impressive 1,000 equally brilliant columns surround the outer areas of the Mosque. Inlaid with mother of pearl as well as semi-precious stones, the pure white marble columns display an impressively delicate floral pattern.
The visionaries of the Grand Mosque didn’t pass up any opportunities for architectural grandiosity. The Mosque has 82 white marble domes with beautiful “crowns” and crescent-shaped finials that feature gold and glass mosaics, creating a path through which natural light can stream into the prayer halls. These domes are all different sizes, the largest being in the center of the main prayer hall. The halls and foyers are also decorated by seven crystal chandeliers from Germany—one of which that is potentially the largest crystal chandelier in the world—that are made from gilded stainless steel and brass, Austrian Swarovski crystals and Italian glass panels.
All this beauty was inspired by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in an effort to create a place of worship where people congregate and come to know Islam as a religion of peace, tolerance, and diversity. Calligraphy, featuring verses from the Quran in three different types of Arabic, spreads throughout the Grand Mosque, evoking a journey of spiritual contemplation. Even after his death in 2004, his sons continued working on the Grand Mosque to finish their father’s dream. To this day, light and projection shows against the Grand Mosque honor Sheikh Zayed’s spirit, highlighting the interplay between nature, spirit, Islam, and artistic vision. It is truly a sight to behold.
What beautiful places have you visited? Let us know in the comments below, and be sure to look out for next Tuesday’s #WhereInTheWorld post on Facebook!