Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, the famous Pink Mosque in Iran
Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is one of the most elegant and colorful mosques in Shiraz, Iran. For its Rose-color and pink tiles, this mosque is also famous as the Pink Mosque. It is in no way possible to travel to Shiraz and not visit this glamorous mosque. Nasir al-Mulk Mosque has two iwans (vaults) which are each adorned with special tile works and motifs. Specifically, the Pearl iwan of the mosque holds one of the most exquisite vault designs. But what makes this mosque one of the top must-see attractions in Shiraz, is one of its special Prayer Halls. The Prayer Hall has been a subject of photography by thousands of tourists over the years. The shimmers of lights pass through the stained glass windows of this part of the Pink Mosque which creates a magical illumination.
Iran Mosques and the significance of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
Iran Mosques are a part of the Islamic architecture of the world. Accordingly, these mosques as religious centers reflect the unity of Islam as a monotheistic religion. The Mosques in Iran were a center for not only religious practices but also improving the social life. For this reason, these mosques had to have a welcoming and spiritual atmosphere. The special atmosphere of Iran mosques would have created a sense of belonging for its visitors. Nasir al-Mulk Mosque in Shiraz, one of the Islamic Cities in Iran, was no exception. This historic mosque was designed in a way to bring out the sense of wonder and then humbleness in the visitors. At the same time, this mosque was aesthetically pleasing to the eye. The floral patterns, the element of water, and the natural light all came together to make Nasir al-Mulk Mosque.
In this article, we will get into the significant points of interest, history, and architecture of this mosque. We will also talk about the best time to visit and take stunning photos in the Pink Mosque. In this way, you can check out the magical play of lights in its colorful halls and vaults.
Nasir al-Mulk Mosque’s Facts & History
Around 150 years ago, during Qajar dynasty in Iran, Mirza Hassan Ali Khan ordered the construction of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. Mirza Hassan Ali Khan who was also known as Nasir al-Mulk was the governor of Fars Province in that era. It has been said that this wealthy man had many properties around Shiraz. After his death, he devoted all his properties to charities. Even today, his offspring, give all the earned money from the mosque to charity. However, all the expensive of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque was paid by tithes. In Islam, Tithes are a part of people’s income which they pay to help the growths of their society.
The construction of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque continued for about 12 years. However, its world famous stained glass windows were added 44 years later. Below, we will get into the details of the different parts and architectural highlights of the Pink Mosque. Interestingly, Nasir al-Mulk Mosque used to be a part of a bigger complex. This Complex consisted of a bathhouse, a house, and a storehouse. Today, there is no sign of the rest of the complex.
Points & Architectural highlights of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
On a carving at the entrance of the Mosque, there are two names. These two names are Haj Mohammad Hassan Memar and Mirza Reza Kashi Gar. Accordingly, these two masters were in charge of the architecture and the tile works of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. Among all the eye-catching architectural features of the Pink Mosque, three of them stand out the most. The three features that distinguishes Nasir al-Mulk Mosque among Iran Mosques are:
- The special mixture of Rose, Pink, and Yellow colors in the tile works ( this beautiful mixture of colors cannot be seen in any other mosque in Iran)
- The Muqarnas work which is a significant type of Islamic Architecture for the vaults. Due to its shape it is sometimes called stalactite and honeycomb vaulting.
- The Stained Glass Windows that has turned its Prayer Hall into a magical place.
We will now walk you through different parts and points of interest in Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. From the Entrance to the Passages, Halls, Courtyard, Vaults, and Prayer Halls, there are many architectural highlights to look for.
An Entrance adorned with Roses, Lilies, and poetry
There are two entrances to Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. However, the main entrance is through a wooden door. A stone frame with Persian Eslimi Patterns cover the wooden gate. Above it, there is a marble piece with some lines of poetry from the blind Persian Poet, Shoorideh Shirazi. The Whole entrance is adorned with blue and pink tiles with patterns of Roses and Lilies. As an important part of the mosque, the entrance has ornament vaulting (Muqarnas).
From the Entrance to the ‘’Hashti’’
The Entrance of the Pink Mosque leads us to a special area called ‘’Hashti’’ or Vestibule. In Persian Architecture, this part is designed to guide the visitors to the hallways in a special manner. Also, here you can find a piece of poetry by the famous Persian poet Sa’adi.
The Hallways of the mosques in Islamic Architecture
Another special feature of Islamic and Iranian Architecture in the Pink Mosque is the element of Hallway. From the Entrance to the hallway, the visitors pass through a dim place. In that way, once they enter the courtyard, they are amazed by the grandeur of the vaults under the sunlight.
The Two-iwan Courtyard of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
Most of the Iran Mosques are either two-iwan mosques of four-iwan mosques. Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is one of the two-iwan mosques. This means that there are two main portals facing each other on the sides of the courtyard. In the middle of the courtyard, there is a beautiful pool. In some times of the year, there are pots of flowers around the pool.
The famous Pearl iwan of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
As mentioned earlier, there are two main iwans or portals in Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. These portals each have a different architecture and type of vaulting. Though the two portals face each other, they are actually asymmetrical in design and features. One of the most exquisite parts of the mosque is the northern portal of the Pink Mosque. Aside from the unique tile works, this Portal has a special type of vaulting. When you look at the ceiling of this part, you will see five carvings which look like Pearl Shells. That is why, over the time, this portal has become famous as the Pearl iwan. The southern iwan or portal of the mosque has two minarets which makes it distinguishable from the northern iwan. Also, this vault has unique patterns of tile work and a special vaulting.
The Colorful & Magical Prayer Hall
Now we come to the most dazzling part of the Pink Mosque. Overall, there are two Prayer Halls in Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. The western Prayer Hall is the world famous hall that attracts locals and foreign tourists to Shiraz. This Prayer Hall is actually the Summer Prayer Hall of the mosque. Special stone carvings such as circular and Calotte carvings are all over the place. These carvings are somehow close to the other famous mosque of Shiraz which is the Vakil Mosque.
Different Patterns of flowers and calligraphies cover the walls and the ceiling of this magical Prayer Hall. There are 12 spiral columns (symbolic of the number of Shia Imams) that have unique carving at their ends. The seven wooden doors with colorful stained glass windows are what have added to the charms of the Prayer Hall. From all around the world, visitors come to take stunning photos under the rainbow colors of light. The flecks of light on the vast Persian carpet of the hall create a perfect background for photography.
The Eastern Prayer Hall and a Well for Cows
The eastern Prayer Hall is the winter prayer hall of the Pink Mosque. Maqeli Tiling which is a combination of brickwork and tiles cover the ceiling of this hall. Behind this Prayer Hall, there is a door that leads to a pit. This pit is called the ‘’Gav Chah’’ (a pit for cows). There are stories that animals and cows used to raise water from this well for filling the pool.
When and where can I visit Nasir al-Mulk Mosque?
Nasir al-Mulk Mosque is open from 8 AM to 1 PM and also from 3:30 PM to 5:30. Keep in mind that during the second half of the year (autumn and winter) the Mosque will be close at 4 PM or so. During special Islamic holidays, this mosque is closed.
Now when is the best time for photography in the Pink Mosque?
From mid-autumn (October) to winter is the best time for photography in Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. The oblique lightening during these seasons makes a perfect illumination for taking photos. Also, the best time to take photographs under the colorful lights is from 8 to 9 Am. Moreover, if you want to take photos of the Pearl iwan (Vault) of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, the best time is right before the sunset.
The Location of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
As for the location of Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, it is on Nasir-ol-molk Alley in Lotfali Khan Zand Street, Gode Aaraban District. You can reach the Pink mosque by getting on the line 1 of Shiraz’s Subway. You should then get off at Vali Asr station. From there, there is only a 1.5 kilometers drive to the mosque with a taxi. Also, you can use the Vali Asr bus and get off at Chaharrah Moshir bus stop. Taxi stations and online Taxi apps are also available in Shiraz.
Attractions near Nasir al-Mulk Mosque
Many of the touristic attractions in Shiraz are near Nasir al-Mulk Mosque. After visiting this mosque, you can make a visit to the historic center of Shiraz and Vakil complex. The Vakil complex consists of the picturesque Vakil Mosque, Vakil Bazaar, and Vakil Bathhouse. The complex is only 1 kilometers away from the Pink Mosque. You can also visit the attractions below:
- Narenjestan Qavam Garden ( within 350 meters)
- Gachine Bathhouse ( within 500 meters)
- Khan theological school ( within 650 meters)
- Jame Mosque of Shiraz ( within 1, 6 km)
- Shah Cheragh Holy shrine ( within 1,8 km)
Aside from the historic sites in Shiraz, you can also explore the sour orange gardens, and natural wonders around Shiraz. Make sure you try the local Food & Signature Dishes of Shiraz before leaving this wonderful city. For more information, you can check out our blog’s post about Shiraz, its points of interest & thing to do.