Sunday, February 17, 2013

Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque

"This glorious piece of modern Islamic architecture was a gift to the nation from Sultan Qaboos to mark the 30th year of his reign."  This quote was taken from the Lonely Planet's guide to Oman, UAE, and Arabian Peninsula.

The main gate to the men's prayer room, closed this early in the morning.

My friend, Debi, and I spent a lovely morning visiting the Grand Mosque in Muscat.  It is open to non-Muslims 8-11 am Saturday to Wednesday.  Women must have their wrists, ankles, and heads covered.

Here is Debi, looking lovely in her scarf.  Trust me, it is a learned skill, one I have yet to accomplish.  That is the main dome behind her, over the men's prayer room.

Construction on the mosque began in 1995 and took six years to complete.  Made from marble, sandstone and wood, the four corner minarets measure 148 feet high, and along with the the taller central minaret, represent the five pillars of Islam.  This information came from the Bradt guide to Oman.

Traditional Omani carved door

This picture was taken outside the women's prayer hall.  You must remove your shoes, so there are lots and lots of cubbies provided.

The women's prayer hall is stunning.  Beamed ceilings, stained glass, and Swarovski crystal chandeliers.  All in all, there are 35 crystal chandeliers in the mosque. 

The women's prayer room holds up to 750 women, much less than the men's prayer room.  It holds up to 6600 men!  A guide explained to us that women are not required to go to a mosque and pray.  They are allowed to pray at home, in case they are pregnant or nursing or caring for young children.  That is the reason this room is smaller and less ornate.  Yes, believe me, the men's prayer room is much grander.

Lots of amazing carved panels

Hard to believe that all I had to do was point and click.  There are not enough superlatives to describe the grounds and buildings and interiors.

There were lots of these niches, each one more beautiful than the next.

A place to wash your feet

And here we are- in the men's prayer room.  This carpet was made totally by hand in Iran.  It took 600 female weavers four years to complete.  It was brought to Oman in pieces and completed on site.  It was the largest carpet in the world, until Abu Dhabi had a bigger one made for its mosque.

And here it is-- the piece de resistance!  The world's largest Swarovski crystal chandelier.  It is about 24 feet wide and about 42 feet high.  Breathtaking!

Beautiful and colorful mosaic art

This is another sight not to be missed if you visit me in Oman.