5 of the world’s most beautiful mosques and how to photograph them
Places of worship, regardless of denomination or faith, offer peaceful and inspirational spots for photographers to spend time with their cameras. Steeped in history and culture, mosques (masjids) serve as much more than places for sacred gatherings; they also give us in-depth history lessons on Islamic architecture as well as a great insight into Islamic workmanship, art and craft.
Here you can explore 5 of the world’s most beautiful mosques shared by PhotoHounders. We’re sure you’ll want to add each and every one to your bucket list of places to shoot!
1) Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque Center, UAE
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi is the largest mosque in the United Arab Emirates. It’s one of the world’s largest and claims to be a bridge between Islam and other world cultures. The mosque’s architects were British, Italian and Emirati, and aspects of muslim design from parts of Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan, and Egypt amongst others are evident. Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque can accommodate up to 40000 worshippers and has an open door policy for visitors of any faith. Make sure you capture the incredible onion-shaped domes, the reflective pools in the courtyard as well as the iconic prayer hall with the world’s largest carpet, 96 jewel-encrusted columns and seven crystal chandeliers.
2) Hassan II Mosque, Morocco
Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is the largest mosque in Morocco, the second largest in Africa, and the 7th largest in the world. Its minaret is the world’s second tallest minaret at 210 metres.
In 1980 King Hassan II decided to build this mosque on water because ‘God’s throne was on water’; he wanted worshippers to be able contemplate God’s sky and ocean which is the reason for the mosque’s location above the Atlantic Ocean, which can be seen through the glass floor inside. Don’t miss the lavish prayer hall where a retractable ceiling opens up to allow in the gentle ocean breeze. You’ll also be able to explore a madrassa, hammams, museum, and magnificent library on site.
3) The Sultan Ahmet Mosque (Blue Mosque), Turkey
The Sultan Ahmet Mosque is one of the major tourist attractions in Istanbul. It attracts thousands of visitors and can be challenging to get in, but it’s well worth the queuing time. The mosque gained its nickname, the Blue Mosque, because of the blue tiles that adorn the interior walls. The design of the Sultan Ahmed Mosque is a heady mix of two centuries of Ottoman and Byzantine architecture. Don’t miss the classic exterior view of the mosque from Sultanahmet Arkeolojik Park where you can capture the fountain in the foreground with the pastels of the Blue Mosque in the background.
4) Al Saleh Mosque, Yemen
Al Saleh Mosque in Sana’a opened in 2008 and is the largest mosque in the country. The mosque welcomes non-muslims and you can visit and photograph the interior by joining an organised tour. The mosque is an architectural masterpiece, with details, carvings and ornate domes that express a fusion of Yemeni architecture and Islamic culture. Shoot the exterior at sunset when the mosque is beautifully illuminated. This is also a great spot for street photography with an impressive backdrop as people go about their daily lives.
5) Ljubljana Mosque, Slovenia
The Islamic Religio-Cultural Center (known as the Ljubljana Mosque) was only completed in 2020 but is a serious contender for being classed as one of the world’s most beautiful mosques. It is the only Islamic religious building in Slovenia and serves the former Yugoslavian muslim communities who came to Slovenia for work in sixties and seventies. This modern, minimalist mosque has a main prayer hall that can accommodate up to 1000 worshippers.
You can photograph the exterior freely at any time, but you’ll need to check the website for visiting hours if you want to shoot the interior. The architecture is the main draw here as the minimalist, clean white exterior can be nicely photographed at different times of day. Sunrise and sunset are the obvious draw, however you’ll get great shots at blue hour or on a sunny day with blue skies.
- Discover more of the world’s most beautiful mosques and how to photograph them on PhotoHound.
- Please respect that mosques are predominantly places of worship and allow worshippers their privacy and right to pray peacefully. Always check prayer times and avoid shooting at these times. Ask permission before photographing people going about their daily worship.
- Dress respectfully. Remember to remove your shoes before entering the mosque and women should cover their heads, shoulders, elbows and knees.
- Follow any guidelines in place regarding photography; for instance, tripods are rarely permitted inside the mosques.