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Islamic Architecture
 
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
Architecture, like art, proceeds by exemplary particulars, that is by masterpieces. What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic Architecture and why?
Daniel Owen
Responses
 
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
TAJ is the masterpiece.
buildings built with a rationale for use are limited within its domain of context untill out of use. Tombs in Islamic architecture, specifically as art of building construction is with a broader rationale. TAJ for its association with the humanity and along with its design principles with nature is uncomparable. the skills and expertise is again highest in the evolution of Islamic building technology. thats why !
Ashish Trambadia
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
Rather than ask what is the greatest masterpiece, revise your question to ask what are the greatest masterpieces of Islamic architecture. The Taj Mahal is certainly one example of a great masterpiece, but there are others, each reflecting the society/culture in which the architecture developed; for example, the Selmiyye (Mosque of Sultan Selim) in Edirne, the Sultan Hasan complex in Cairo, the Alhambra in Granada, Spain, the Maidan in Isfahan and its incredible complex of buildings, etc., and then there are the modern ones. There is no one masterpiece but many - reflecting the variety of cultures and peoples that make up the Islamic world.
Johanna Movassat
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
Yes, there are many, many masterpieces. What I am more interested in is "Why?". Why is such a piece of Islamic Architecture a masterpiece? Does it represent the heights or perfection of a style or form? Are there specifics of proportion which can be elucidated? Is there an unparalleled cooperation of a variety of arts and crafts which achieve or evoke a new aesthetic? How do new materials or technologies facilitate this mastery? Can some of the credit rightly go to other intellectual disciplines? Can one see in the masterpiece the synthesis of a variety of cultural influences which are necessary, but not sufficient for its creation? How does the masterpiece transcend all of its influences: technical, cultural, aesthetic, intellectual?
Daniel Owen
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
The Masterpiece, in absolute sense may be dont even exist. Its only what we can read in the architecute, its evolution, influences, Materialization and also defects, errors and so on. But then we can term one 'the masterpiece' if it speaks for itself its very qualities very clearly. with or without lences of intellectual expertise, it then gives answers for adaptation to the newer context for instance new materials...
Ashish Trambadia
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
I agree with Trambadia, the masterpiece of islamic architecture can NOT be seen by the human's five sense only. more important it's seen by the heart, islamic one! that's why the terms masterpiece is only relative.
and I think the box of Ka'bah in Makkah is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture. that's what I think.
Farid Nazaruddin
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
I agree with you Aaic, one can consider the Cube of makkah as the great masterpiece of islamic architecture. the pure cubic form of it, and the perfect proportions, but also the black color with some small scripts give to it an abstraction wich can be more felt with the heart and the senses.
Khaldoun Sektaoui
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
This question have caused several other questions, some of them are about how we can compare two different buildings which were built many years ago.
Some others are about the term "Islamic" for architecture. I mean is it enough for a building which is in a islamized country, to call it "Islamic". e.g. palaces in Umayyid syria, how much do they differ from Roman ones? or houses,baths and ...?
I think we can't analyze historic buildings with modern paradigms and rank them.
Peiman Amini
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
Dear friends,

Very thought provoking question and interesting responses. I would support and agree with Aaic Syaf and Khaldoun Sektaound, that original cube at Makkah
and its surrounding space, is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture. While coming to the conclusion, one should give adequate weightage to the response by the people, their faith and beliefs.

Taj Mahal may be the most beautiful example of Islamic Architecture,perhaps, but surely not the greatest. For qualifying as an example of Islamic Architecture, an edifice should be simple, humane, sustainable, environment friendly, appropriate, and inspire the people and stengthen their faith in Islam.

Therefore, simple houses and mosques built by ordinary folks and craftspersons are considered as better examples of Islamic Architecture than most of the palaces and tombs built by emperors.

with warm regards,
Akhtar Chauhan
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
I agree that the Ka'bah is the simplest and greatest building in islamic architecture..it is the one that generates many positive feelings for muslims..
It's power comes from the symbol it withstands..The first building on earth for worshipping god..and the one point we muslims face in our prayers five times a day..
I dont think any islamic building generates this much attention and awe..
Nada Ishaq
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
Thank you all very much for your responses. Since so many of you agree that the Qa'bah at Mecca is the greatest piece of Islamic architecture, I'm hoping that you could make images of it available on ArchNet (if your belief permits it).
Daniel Owen
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
Daniel, there does seem to be some consensus for the Kaaba, which is pre-Islamic, but more for its emotional and symbolic nature than for its architectural excellence. If we are taking about architecture in its strictest sense, I would have to put in my vote for the Alhambra, Fatehpur Sikri, Registan Square, and the Maidan in Isfahan.
Shiraz Allibhai
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
Greetings,

Sometimes an Architectural masterpiece depends on the eye of the beholder. I myself, believe that a simple birdsnest, an eskimos igloo and the Holy Kaaba are greater in the mastery than most profane structures built by modern architects. Alas but this all depends on the "eye of the beholder".

Daniel there is no one piece of Islamic architecture that is "the best""the greatest""the numero uno". If you travel the Muslim world, you will soon conclude that there are many masterpieces, each in there own right "the best""the greatest""the numero uno".

Warm Regards,

Akhtar good to hear from you again, How are you doing?

Shiraz-I also heard that the holy rock of the kaaba is now being classified as a meteroite???? I kid...
Abdul Basit Mukri
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
I apologize to everyone who thought that I meant there is only one masterpiece of Islamic Architecture. Nothing could be further from the truth. I was just hoping that contributors to the topic would state in a sentence or two what it is about their favorite masterpieces of Islamic Architecture that make them great. For example the way several of you did in describing the Ka'aba or as Ashish Trambadia did in describing the Taj.
Thanks again to all for participating.
Daniel Owen
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
Now this may seem uncommon but I think the native Indian Teepee is Islamic architecture deemed worthy of being classified as beautiful.

I like it because of its naturalness, it's symetry and the life it evokes of. Being close to nature, brings us closer to God. If any architectural is worth anything than Peace is what it should evoke.

Best Regards,

Oh, and of course the Taj but it is not so easy to explain in words.
Abdul Basit Mukri
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
This is my favourite list of the ten masterpices of Islamic architecture:
  1. Taj Mahal, Agra, India
  2. Court of the Lions in the Al-Hambra Palace, Granada, Spain
  3. The monuments of Fatehpur Sikri, India
  4. Umayyad Mosque of Cordoba, Spain
  5. Mosque of Ahmad Ibn Tulun, Cairo, Egypt
  6. Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
  7. Telya Kari School, Samarkand, Uzbekistan
  8. Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, Syria
  9. Dome of The Rock, Jerusalem, Palestine
  10. All mud mosques in the Sahara
Hani Alqahtani
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
Hello Daniel,

I guess its pretty difficult to pick one out of the many to be called a Masterpice. The Taj Mahal, Al-Hambra, Blue Mosque and many others mentioned above are undoubtedly 'The few among the many Masterpices', but sometimes you come across kind of the 'not too famous ones' and these surprising elements do make you question yourself whether to classify or categorize structures or simply judge them on the basis of their workmanship with the then given set of circumstances.

I know a place called Champaner here in Gujarat, India, which has recently been declared as the 27th 'UNESCO World Heritage Site' from India. Believe me that the workmanship in the seven mosques in the vicinity can cast a spell on anyone who has been places like the Taj before.

Haseeb Siddique Shaikh
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
Hi All,

I couldn't agree more with Mr Siddique that there are many smaller but out-of-the-ordinary masterpieces of Islamic architecture.

Even though the Taj was the absolute realisation of the different architectural styles evolving over a period of rule of four consecutive emperors, this churning had some very arresting variants. The tomb of Mirza Ghiyas Beg (popularly known as the Tomb of Itmad-Ud-Daulah) at Agra, built by his daughter Nur Jahan, is one such example of aesthetic impression. Though quite small, compared to the Taj, to me it is one of the most beautiful Islamic monuments ever built.
Amarjyoti Dutta
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
I couldn't agree more with the top two comments. Yes, there are hundreds of less-known buildings across the Islamic World which are masterpeices in their own ways. And The Tomb of Iitimad Al-dawlah is a work of art. yet, for a masterpiecce it should appeal not only to its immediate geographic landscape but should also have a worldwide appeal. In addition the technical, functional and symbolic factors are also important. This applies to the selecte list above.
Hani Alqahtani
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
Dear Friends,

How about considering the humble tent of the nomadic Arabs and simple mud houses with courtyards of any region as
some of the greatest masterpiece of Islamic Architecture?

with best wishes,
Akhtar Chauhan
Akhtar Chauhan
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
I agree with Akhtar, I have been in some wonderful courtyard houses that are cool in the summer, warm in the winter, and the flow of spaces are a thing of beauty. I would also like to put forward Louis Kahn's National Assembly Building in Bangladesh.
Shiraz Allibhai
What is the greatest masterpiece of Islamic architecture?
I recently met a fellow architect from Iran while in Istanbul, and he showed me some of the courtyard houses of Iran. Somehow, I could feel the warmth of those houses -- rather, I should call them homes.

I feel that a humble dwelling captures the essence of Islam far better than the Taj, Fatehpur Sikri or any other monumental building.
Vishwanath Kashikar
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