Mosques and Palaces
Examples of Islamic architecture can be found throughout the ancient and modern Muslim world, from Spain and Africa to Indonesia and China. Islamic architecture truly began to flourish during the Umayyad dynasty (661–750
Later designers were commissioned to build huge and luxurious palaces. These were often embellished and decorated with mosaic tile work, wood lattice carvings, and beautiful tapestries. The Alhambra in Granada, Spain, is the best-known example of the beautiful architecture and landscaping of the period.
Elements of Islamic Architecture
Islamic architecture developed as a combination of styles and techniques that were borrowed from throughout the Muslim lands and combined in a unique artistic approach. There are some common techniques and styles that distinguish Islamic architecture from other types. Many of these developed around mosque architecture due to a combination of spiritual, practical, and aesthetic needs.
Inner space is more important than exterior space in Islamic architecture. Courtyards surrounded by outer walls are common, both for large congregational open-air gatherings and in homes, where they allow an area of privacy for the residents. Mosque prayer halls were large and bare but lavishly decorated with tile work, ornamental pillars, and beautiful oriental rugs. Muqarnas, a honeycomblike architectural feature, helped to reflect light and open the space. The minaret, a slender tower reaching from a corner of the building, initially functioned as a high place from which to call the people to prayer. In modern times, speakers and stereo systems assist the mu'adhin in amplifying his voice; the minaret retains this function in a symbolic and traditional sense.
Masterpieces of Islamic Architecture
The Muslim world has produced many ancient and modern examples of beautiful architectural design and function. Among them are the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem (692