Nain and its 1000 years old Jame Mosque
This ancient, austere, and perfectly intact Congregational Mosque is one of the most beautiful religious buildings in Iran. It is believed to have been constructed in the 7th century by Umayyad caliph Omar. However, an archaeological survey on the site has shown that the mosque's construction (or reconstruction) dates from the 10th 11th century.
Dating from the Seljuk period, this mosque is very unusual, for it was built according to the primeval Arab plan when a four-eivan mosque layout had become the norm. In the past, the Congregational Mosque had six entrances, of which two are still open today. The main entrance 1 is by a door under a modern porch by the side of the minaret 2 There is another entrance in the northeastern corner of the mosque 3 The rectangular courtyard of the mosque 4 is rather small and is surrounded on the east, west, and south sides by hypostyle prayer halls 5 which are entered through imposing arches. The sharply pointed tunnel vaults are nearly three times as high as they are wide. There are five arches on the south and north sides (the one in the middle being wider and slightly taller), and four arches of equal size on the east and west sides. Inside, the prayer halls exhibit plain brickwork that was daubed with polychrome plaster in later periods. The brickwork on the facade, however, is very handsome and is reminiscent of the decorations of the Jorjir Portal in Esfahan. The prayer hall on the south side is the largest. It is marked in the center by a stunning stucco mihrab and a huge wooden minbar - the main decorative features of the mosque. The area around the mihrab and the minbar is also the most ornate. It has several massive round columns covered with exuberant stucco designs. The minbar is the most valuable in the Esfahan region. Made of fretted wood, it features numerous inscriptions, one of which gives its date as 1312. The minbar is 5 m high and has 18 steps. On the north side, the courtyard is lined with shallow niches about 1.5 m off the floor. Inside, they are plainly coated with plaster but reveal intricate brick patterns on the exterior.
The brick minaret of the mosque is located in its southeastern corner. It is about 28 m high. Its octagonal form is entirely different from the other Seljuk minarets, particularly those in Esfahan. Another highlight of the mosque is its underground prayer hall 6 which seems to be preIslamic, possibly dating from the Sasanid period. The hall occupies the area below the courtyard and is reached by two flights of steps. It is lit by marble plates set into the floor of the courtyard, and these plates may explain the absence of the usual ablutions pool of the courtyard. Unlike many other congregational mosques, Nain's mosque was located outside the bazaar but was connected to it by a covered passage. This passage was, however, demolished during recent road building.
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