Words fail me when it comes to describe how wonderful this Holy place is.
I know I will write many other posts about this beautiful Mosque, but this time I would like to concentrate on its stunning architecture, to try at least to give an idea of how impressive this religious landmark is.
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque was built between 1996 and 2007, and takes its name from Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who is buried at the site.
With its 22,000m2 of space, it is the third largest Mosque in the world, being able to welcome between 30.000 and 40.000 worshippers at any given time.
The main courtyard, a space of 17,000 m2, features the largest mosaic floor in the world.
The Mosque is visible from the three main bridges connecting the island to mainland Abu Dhabi: Maqta bridge, Mussafah bridge and Sheikh Zayed Bridge. This geographical positioning is a symbol of the connection between the whole city and its Grand Mosque.
Amongst many wonders, it is home to 82 domes, over a thousand columns, four minarets standing over 100m high, the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet (measuring 5,627 m2 and weighing 32 Ton) and some of the world’s largest chandeliers, incorporating millions of Swarovsky crystals.
The Islamic religious calendar is based on the lunar cycle, hence the moon has been used as source of inspiration and design motif across the whole building.
The Mosque’s look is based on a full moon with clouds moving across its face: a system of hidden projectors create this impression, and the clouds are drifting from the direction of Mecca.
As the lunar cycle changes, the building is lit in different ways: even if to the naked eye might be hard to notice these changes, the Mosque has been designed so that with the full moon it appears basking in bright white light, but as the days go on and the moon wanes, the building gradually becomes lit by a bluer, darker light.
Built in concrete and then clad with marble from Macedonia, this Mosque is a masterpiece of both traditional and innovative Islamic art. Materials for its completion were sourced from many countries including Greece, Italy, Germany, China, Austria, India and New Zealand, just to name a few.
Thanks to the many lanterns and artificial lighting, the Mosque is just as stunning in the evening than under the sun: the building’s ‘glow’ comes from the many carved wood latticework (the Mashrabiya) and from the expert lighting of each material used in the interiors: marble panels, glass mosaics, carved gypsum panels and calligraphy have all been lit so to highlight their texture and natural veining.
Inside the Mosque, the Qibla prayer wall, pointing to Mecca, is a luminous panel where end-emitting fibre illuminates a gold-mesh curtain, concealed behind the 99 inscribed names of Allah, while side glow fibres reveal the organic forms of vine fronds.
This is an amazing religious space and a true architectural wonder. Thanks also to the fountains reflecting the beautiful courtyard’s columns and the perfectly groomed gardens, the Grand Mosque takes my breath away every time I catch even just a glimpse of it.