Islamic Architecture 600-800 BCE

Briefly, in the book Islamic preriod is stated as “Islam, the new monotheistic religion of the Prophet Muhammad, spread from Arabia to Southwest Asia, Persia, and North Africa. Within a century this new empire covered as much territory as that of Alexander.“. I guess all these gave start to building domish structures  in side the temples. A good example can be given from the Temple Mount in Jerusalem. The Umayyad leadership constructed the central plan structure of the Dome of the Rock inside the Temple Mount, becuase having domish structures in the temples were a new stream, there is no doubt that, this attempt took the attention of the other faiths. This helped the Buddist religion to spread all over the China and into the central Asia.

In the architecture of Islamic period, mosques and minarets were built commonly. So, mosque helped people to focus on the Islamic rules and the minarets were for criers to call the faithful to prayer. The minarets were very succesful approach for having variations of new vertical axis to urban skyline. I need to add that there was also similar urban skyline in the Egyptian period of architecture, but it was just for being a landmark. (cannot remember the name of that specific structure, but I will inform you later on the day). Built cities of Islamic culture was resembling the Roman military camps, there were no streets and open publis spaces.  Even there was no arrangement the cities, their religion had big orders.

Mecca and Medina: The Cities of Muhamamad and His Followers

Briefly after Muhammad took root of the new religion, Abraham and Ismael participated in building original structures. Kabaa was built during this period and Muslims were circumambaleting Kabaa seven times. Later, to abstract it, Kabaa was covered with a black silk drape. Also, Muhammad gave a new form to his own house to have a spesific place to worship, literally the “place of prostration”. They, firstly, attached a square quartyard to the west of Prophet’s house. He also gave importance to ascetic attitude in architecture, using vernacular methods for mud-brick walls and palm-trunk roof. His initial prayer hall was facing the Jerusalem, which is now favored as qible.

The Mosque of the Prophet in Medine probably resembled a small traders’ caravansary. There is also similarities in the earlier attempts of Muslim architecture when compared with Christians, becuase in both, there are rejection of the form of the pagan temples. The earliest mosques took the place of the forum-basilica core of the Roman cities. The very first mosque had very basic architectural elements and it was very simple when compared with today’s architectural attempts. The mosque also had fountain. If I have to shortly inform you about the progression that the mosques gone through, the three most common forms were the basilica with longitudinal aisles directed to the qibla, transverse basilica with lateral exposure to the qibla wall and the isotopichypostyle hall. Besides all these, there were plans of a new city on a grid with two broad cross streets, designed by the famous architect Abu al-Haiaj. He placed the governers palace and the Friday mosque back to back and again, as it is seen in the previous ares, there was public space called as open plaza or maydanThese initial Arab foundations were the proof of methodically geometric ancient Roman cities. 

The Umayyad Period: Jerusalem and Damascus

The Dome of Rock is a stone masonry mosque with wooden roof. It is decorated with glazed ceramic tile, mosaics, and gilt aluminum and bronze. Like other nomadic people, Arap people also had a very small amount of knowledge of mannsory architecture. They were inspired from Presia, Roman and Byzantine precedents.

The attempts from the Christian architecture can be seen easly, because the terrace has a small elevation towards the center. Sited from the book ” Inside the Dome of Rock a frieze of interlacing kufic script encircled the base, distinguishing it as Islamic. Few differences, this mosque had ornimantes, favoring decorative inscriptions, rather than human depictions. This mosque also had two distinct chacteristic: pointed arches and ablaqIn the book, it says that, “The Dome of Rock again differed from most central-plan Christian churches in its use of two concentric ambulatories.


The Dome of Rock: The Rock in enclosed by two ambuşatories ( in this case the aisler that circle the rock) was composed of four piersand twelve columns supporting a roınded drum that transitions into the two-layered dome more than 20 meters in diameter.

One other project of Al-Walid is the Great Mosque of Damascus. Because this mosque was constructed near the southern wall of ancient temenos, public space was formed inbetween the wall and the mosque. The mosque has no windows and it was decorated with glittering mosaics.

Baghdad is a good example for the circular city plan.  They also constructed four city gates with similar distances from each other on the edges of the circle. As it was seen in Kufah, in Baghdad there were two crossing streets and enclosed with vaults.

The Abbasid Succession: New Capitals in Baghdad and Samarra

Briefly before the end of this great power, the Umuyyads relocated their capital to the circular new town of Harran. Likewise the previous city this one also had a round shape and it was known as the city of the peace.



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