Mosques are the central part of any city or village in the Islamic world and beyond. Billions of people worldwide call them their main place of worship and flock to these holy sites on Fridays and other days of the week to offer prayers. Many mosques are also incredibly beautiful with intricate designs or simply impressive with their sheer size and presence, leaving one breathless while walking by.
Being currently based in Pakistan, I get to hear prayer calls and pass by beautiful mosques on a daily basis. Over time, this inspired me to compile a comprehensive bucket list of the world’s most iconic mosques – be it for their size, beauty, or historic relevance – that travelers can use as a guide to help them see some of the world’s most magnificent places. However, having not yet gotten around in the world as much as I would love to, I needed some help to create this bucket list. Therefore, I asked a bunch of my favorite travel bloggers about the most iconic mosques they have been to and what advice they can give to visitors.
Here’s what we say:
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Most Iconic Mosques In The Middle East
King Abdullah Mosque, Amman, Jordan
Visited by Paulina from Paulina On The Road
If you’re looking for one of the most iconic mosques in the world, you must visit the King Abdullah Mosque, located in the Jabal-al-Whidbey in Amman, the capital of Jordan. Built by the Martyr King Abdullah Bin-Al-Hussein in the 1980s, this mosque perfectly reflects the Arabesque Islamic style in its architecture, design, and decoration.
The Quranic concept of the interior design, “Allah is the light of the Heaven and Earth”, is what makes this mosque so unique. It aesthetically combines the traditional layout with a modern appearance, attracting many visitors from around the world. However, all the signs are written in Arabic style inside the Mosque.
The King Abdullah Mosque remains open from Saturday-Thursday (8 am-11 am and 12:30 pm-2 pm). Both males and females are permitted to enter here after purchasing the ticket for 2 JD ($ 2.82). Tourists are also allowed to take photos here.
Additionally, visitors are expected to dress modestly, including Abhaya (a full-length black-gown with full-sleeves and a hood) for women.
The mosque is located close to many of Amman’s tourist attractions. Therefore, it will be easy to find some of the best places to stay in Jordan nearby.
Nasir Al-Mulk Mosque, Shiraz, Iran
Visited by Jordan from Inspired By Maps
The Nasir al-Mulk Mosque, also known as the Pink Mosque, is one of Iran’s most stunning with its magnificent rainbow of stained glass – and easily one of the most iconic mosques in the world. Found in the bustling city of Shiraz, one of Iran’s oldest cities, with a diverse and rich culture of cultivating art and craftsmanship, its little wonder that Nasir al-Mulk Mosque was conceived here.
This magical place of worship, lined with exquisite stained glass, thousands of painted tiles on the ceiling, and detailed Persian rug floor covering, is a glorious haven of colour and life. In every direction you look, it is like stepping into a rainbow kaleidoscope. There is an expansive courtyard in the middle of the mosque with a linear pool framed by flowers. The building complex features dozens of arabesque arches that add character to the light show. The mosque was formed during the Qajar dynasty, with construction beginning in 1876 and lasting until 1888.
European design elements were popular during this period, explaining the extensive use of stained glass – uncommon in other mosques.
The best way to experience the mosque is early morning when the sun streams through the stained glass windows and weird and beautiful patterns on the floor. It’s one of the top things to do in Iran so you might want to plan multiple visits to appreciate its beauty in different lights and at less popular times of the day (i.e. without the crowds.)
Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE
Visited by me
Last year, I had the incredible chance to visit the stunning Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque during a three-hour layover in Abu Dhabi, and rarely have I left a place this enchanted before. The Sheikh Zayed Mosque, also known as the Grand Mosque of Abu Dhabi, is a modern mosque sponsored by Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The construction lasted from 1996 to 2007 and cost around 2 billion dirhams – that’s over $500 million USD! Sounds like a huge project, right? Fortunately, all this paid off and resulted in one of the most magnificent buildings on earth.
Architecturally, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a marvelous combination of the best that the Islamic world has to offer. Its influences include Persian, Alexandrian, Moorish, Arabic, and Mughal styles, specifically inspired by Lahore’s iconic Badshahi Mosque. Great parts of the mosque are made of marble, gold, and a variety of precious stones. The complex can house over 40,000 visitors at once.
Unsurprisingly, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is Abu Dhabi’s number one attraction and attracts immense crowds every day. Visiting the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is very easy and convenient for both worshippers and tourists. There is plenty of parking available, no entrance fee, and one can easily borrow abayas for the modest dress code for free. However, it’s important to remember that even with an abaya on, you must still behave modestly at all times – unless you want to end up like Rihanna in 2013.
Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, Muscat, Oman
Visited by Josie from Josie Wanders
The Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque is located in Muscat, Oman. It is the most important mosque in the country and is named after the ruler of Oman at the time of building, Qaboos bin Said Al Said. A relatively new mosque, it was completed in May 2001, marking 30 years of the Sultan’s reign.
The exterior of the mosque is made out of beautiful white Indian sandstone, and it is large enough to hold 20000 worshippers. The interior is even more stunning, with one huge carpet that was the largest in the world until the mosque in Abu Dhabi opened. There is also an incredibly beautiful chandelier that hangs in the centre of the main prayer hall, again the largest built before it was overtaken by the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque. Outside there is an area where art from the Omani tribes is displayed in archways along a covered walkway. These designs were inspired by the motifs often woven into rugs and fabrics traditionally found in this part of the Arabian Peninsula.
Before visiting the Sultan Qaboos Grand Mosque, check the official website to be sure it is open for visitors. This is the only mosque in Oman open for non-muslim visitors. The mosque is usually open from 8-11 am each day except Fridays and some other special religious days. Be aware children under ten are not allowed into the main prayer hall. All dress needs to be modest, with women required to wear a head covering. Entry is free.
Most Iconic Mosques In North Africa
Al Ashraf Mosque, Cairo, Egypt
Visited by Madhurima from Orange Wayfarer
Cairo, the capital city of Egypt has undergone drastic political upheavals that shaped its history. The two neighbourhoods of Cairo, namely Coptic Cairo and the Old Cairo, bear testimony to such turbulent times! Both the areas are more than a thousand years old and you need to visit both of them to experience the cultural side of Cairo.
The Al-Ashraf Mosque (also known as the Madrasa/Mosque of Sultan al-Ashraf Barsbay) was built during the reign of Sultan Mamluk. The mosque’s premises house a mausoleum, a madrasa (Islamic college), and Sufi shrines or Ribats, most of which now have been destroyed. The Mosque is unique in its stained glass profound window that adorns the flanking wall in yellow ochre hue, adding a splash of color to the desert city.
The mosque has a paved marble stone walkway. It was established during the heydays of Mamluk reign when business between Europe and the Horn of Africa was prosperous. The Al-Ashraf Mosque featured exquisite iwans that inscriptions detailing how funds were utilized to build the mosque, indicating financial transparency between the ruler and the citizens.
We visited the mosque during the week preceding Eid ul Adha. Being one of the touristy places, there were plenty of guides who were ready to take you for a tour. Make sure you say yes or no clearly to the proposal. We did not take a guide. Not just in old Cairo I would suggest men and women to dress modestly but in all of Egypt. Visit any day of the week except Friday when the mosque is frequented by devotees.
Hassan II Mosque, Casablanca, Morocco
Visited by Amanda from Maroc Mama
The Hassan II Mosque in Casablanca is one of Morocco’s most famous landmarks and also one of the most impressive mosques in the world. It is the largest functioning mosque in Africa, boasts the world’s 2nd largest minaret and while many mosques are built by governments or financed by the wealthy, this mosque was built primarily from donations made by the Moroccan people. It is a newer mosque having only been completed in 1993. It took 7 years to complete and over 10,000 artists and craftsmen worked to create the intricate details that pay homage to traditional Moroccan design.
For visitors to Morocco, it’s worth a stop because it’s the only mosque non-Muslims are allowed to enter in the country. If you’d like to understand a bit about Islam in Morocco and see this truly beautiful building. You do need to enter on a guided tour and there is a timetable available on the mosque website with tours and available languages. The price is 130dh for adult non-residents of Morocco. If you are taking a guided tour of the city, your guide often can arrange this visit as a part of your day.
Visitors must dress modestly. Shorts and sleeveless shirts are prohibited. Women do not need to wear a scarf on their heads. You will be asked to remove your shoes, bring a bag for them if you can otherwise there are bags available at the door.
Kairouan Mosque, Kairouan, Tunisia
Visited by Stephanie from History Fangirl
Many people come to Tunisia for its beautiful beaches, but there eight UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Tunisia to see as well, including the city of Kairouan, which was the holiest city in the Maghreb during the late part of the first millennium CE, and home to the Great Mosque of Kairouan.
According to UNESCO’s inscription, “The Great Mosque, rebuilt in the 9th century, is not only one of the major monuments of Islam but also a universal architectural masterpiece. The many but small changes in it have not altered the layout of this place of prayer.” The mosque and city also serve as a major center of Islamic pilgrimage. Deemed one of the holiest cities in Islam, Muslims can make seven pilgrimages to Kairouan if they are unable to complete the Hajj to Mecca.
For non-Muslims visiting Kairouan, the rules are slightly different than the rules for visiting other Tunisian mosques. While non-Muslims can enter and see the courtyard, you will not be permitted to enter the prayer room. Opening hours for tourists are from 8 am until 2 pm most of the year, though seasonally the mosque might be open earlier. While in Kairouan, make sure to visit the medina and the city’s second most important mosque, the Mosque of the Three Doors.
Muhammad Ali Mosque, Cairo, Egypt
Visited by Moheb from The Wanderer Pharaoh
The Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali is situated on the highest point in Cairo Citadel. It is the most visible mosque in Cairo, and one of the most visited landmarks. The Mosque was commissioned by Muhammad Ali Pasha between 1830 and 1848 in the memory of Muhammad Ali’s oldest son Tusun Pasha.
Muhammad Ali Pasha was an Albanian soldier who was appointed by the Ottoman Sultan to rule Egypt in 1805. He was one of the most significant rulers in modern Egyptian History. Muhammad Ali succeeded in establishing himself as an independent Sultan of Egypt and Sudan. He also made great contributions to the Cairo Citadel and is responsible for most of the improvements we see today.
The Great Mosque of Muhammad Ali was built in Ottoman architecture style. It is also called Alabaster Mosque because the inside and outside of the mosque are tilled with alabaster. The builders used limestone from minor Giza Pyramids in the construction of the mosque. In front of the mosque, there is a magnificent terrace with a breath-taking view of Cairo from its highest point.
This mosque is characterized by a stunning and massive interior. Its capacity is up to 10.000 worshipers. Inside the mosque, the walls are also tilled with alabaster. The windows are made out of very beautifully coloured stained glass. The mosque features a mihrab – a semicircular niche in the wall that indicates the direction that Muslims should face while praying – and a minbar, where the imam stands to deliver sermons. Muhammad Ali also built a marble tomb inside the mosque for himself.
As in most mosques, covering your body and taking off your shoes is a must to be able to enter. Also, women are required to cover the hair to be able to enter this iconic mosque.
Most Iconic Mosques In South Asia
Badshahi Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan
Visited by me
The city of Lahore is full of iconic landmarks yet none of them beats the majestic Badshahi Mosque. Constructed by emperor Aurangzeb in 1671 in celebration of his impressive military campaigns, the Badshahi Mosque was named an imperial mosque of the Mughal Empire and the biggest of its kind at the time. The mosque is made almost entirely of red sandstone, closely resembling the Jama Masjid in Delhi. While its interior features some very intricate artwork, the Badshahi Mosque is most famous for its spacious courtyard that can easily make you feel like you’re in a sea of red sandstone.
Unfortunately, it is the same large courtyard that attracted the wrong kind of attention from the empire’s enemies. Due to its spacious design, both the Sikhs and later the British used the mosque as a military garrison after their respective conquests of Lahore. It was not until 1852 that the Badshahi Mosque regained its original purpose as a place of worship.
As one of Lahore’s main attractions, visiting the Badshahi Mosque is relatively easy. Outside of prayer times, the mosque is open for worshippers and tourists alike, however, cameras are not allowed inside. I personally recommend handing just the camera’s battery to the guard instead of the entire device and taking photos with your phone, which is considered OK. As in most places in Pakistan, modest dress and behavior is required and shoes must be taken off at the entrance – which leads me to my next advice: be careful when visiting the Badshahi Mosque in summer. The sandstone courtyard gets extremely hot and if you don’t wear thick socks (or use the watered path), you could end up with second-degree burns on your feet like me!
Bara Imam Bara, Lucknow, India
Visited by Karan from The Wicked Poet
Lucknow, the City of Nawabs, is known for its legendary cuisine, exemplary architecture, and rich Mughal heritage that is reflected in its sprawling palaces and monuments. One of the epitomes of this heritage is the great “Bara Imam Bara” of Lucknow.
Completed in 1791, it is the story behind this mosque that makes it so unique. The mosque was constructed to offset the famine which hit the province of Awadh hard. Nawab Asaf-ud-Daula selected architect Khifayatullah through a competitive process and subsequently built this monument to provide food and livelihood to the common people and the aristocrats alike who worked at different times of the day throughout this
The Bara Imam Bara now serves as a prayer hall for the Shia sect of the Muslim Community during Muharram. It consists of the Asafi Mosque, the Main Imam Bara complex, and a baoli ( Stepwell ). Its most famous attraction is a one of a kind labyrinth complex situated in the Main Imam Bara which houses 3 halls namely the Persian Hall, Chinese hall, and the Kharbooza Hall. A truly unique architectural marvel, the labyrinth complex, also called the Bhool Bhulaiya, has more than 1000 passages and 489 identical doorways. The largest hall also known as the Persian Hall is said to be the largest building in the world without any columns or pillars. The ceiling of this hall was hollowed out while planning the construction of the labyrinth complex inside.It now supports the roof without any reinforcements. The Tombs of both the Nawab and the architect lie in this hall.
Note: Do take a guide if you plan to explore the labyrinth as it is very easy to lose your way.
Entry Fee: Rs 25 for Indians
Rs 500 for foreign tourists.
Timings: 6 am to 5 pm
Best time to visit:
October to March is the best time to visit Lucknow as you definitely want to avoid the sweltering summers
Faisal Mosque, Islamabad, Pakistan
Visited by me
As Pakistan’s national mosque and Islamabad’s most famous landmark, the Faisal Mosque is undoubtedly one of the most iconic mosques in the world. The mosque was first opened in 1988 after a generous fund from the Saudi King Faisal bin Abdul Aziz of nearly $120 million USD. The mosque’s unique architecture, which reflects elements of both contemporary and Islamic architecture, was selected after a fierce international design contest with the winner being Turkish architect Vedat Dalokay. According to Dalokay, the unique design is meant to capture the essence of the Holy Kaaba with its symmetrical properties. The mosque’s unique minarets are inspired by Turkish architecture while the eight-sided main hall is inspired by the shape of Bedouin tents and replaces a traditional dome. Thanks to its spacious yard and prayer hall, the Faisal Mosque is not only the largest mosque in Pakistan but also the fifth-largest mosque in the world.
Although visiting mosques for tourism purposes can be a touchy subject in Pakistan, one can visit the Faisal Mosque without any problems and even bring a DSLR camera inside to take photos. There is no entrance fee whatsoever and one can leave their shoes in boxes at the entrance and be assigned a number to pick them up afterward. As usual, a modest dress code is enforced for both men and women and the latter have to cover their hair. It is not encouraged to visit the mosque for touristic purposes during prayer times, however, one can always marvel at this iconic mosque from afar from the nearby Margalla Hills.
Jama Masjid, Delhi, India
Visited by Paul from The Two That Do
Jama Masjid, Delhi, capable of hosting 25,000 people in its monumental courtyard is India’s largest mosque and undoubtedly one of the world’s most iconic. Constructed between 1650 and 1656 at a cost of 1 million Rupees by Shah Jahan who also built Delhi’s Red Fort and the Taj Mahal Jama Masjid is generally considered to the best of all Mughal Empire mosques. Its three grand domes and two 40 metre tall minarets of striped sandstone and white marble a majestic sight visible from across this area of Old Delhi. The equally impressive Red Fort lies less than a mile to the north and the bustling Chandni Chowk Market just 400 metres due west.
Those visiting Jama Masjid not as part of a wider city tour can reach the area via either Chawri Bazaar or Jama Masjid metro stops on yellow and purple lines respectively. The mosque is open for tourists seven days a week between the hours of 07.00 – 12.00 and 13.30 – 18.30. Entry is free although there is a cost of 300 Rupees to be able to take those all essential photographs. As you would expect visitors are required to dress conservatively with head, legs, and shoulders covered and no footwear permitted. Robes appropriate to these requirements are available to rent from thenorthern gate. Do ensure you take care when taking off your footwear during periods of Delhi’s infamous high temperatures. At the time of our own visit temperatures were in the mid-40s and the stone courtyard was incredibly hot to touch. The mosque kindly lays out rugs and other materials to walk over.
In a city as oppressive as Delhi, the peace and tranquillity that Jama Masjid boasts is a welcome respite as well as a beautiful tourist destination in its own right.
Mahabat Khan Mosque, Peshawar, Pakistan
Visited by Samantha from Intentional Detours
One of the most famous places in Peshawar also happens to be one of the most iconic mosques in the world – Mahabat Khan. The Mahabat Khan Masjid is another one of Pakistan’s Mughal Era masterpieces– it was completed in the late 17th century, and named after the then- governor of Peshawar.
The exterior of the mosque is finished with marble, while its interior is decorated with thousands of floral motifs and exquisite geometric designs. The absolute best view of this living piece of history is from above- just ask a caretaker, they’re more than likely to show you the way!
Peshawar itself is a special city- the oldest in Pakistan- and the Mahabat Khan Masjid speaks to the ancient history that you can truly feel while walking through the streets. Worshippers have prayed here for hundreds of years, and taking a step in it yourself will give you a feeling quite like going back in time.
As with any mosque, wearing a hijab (headscarf) is a must for ladies. I also highly recommend getting your hands on a shalwar kameez once you arrive in the country, as not only is it the comfiest, but it’s the perfect outfit for any mosque visit.
Keep in mind that due to Mahabat Khan’s location deep within a narrow, winding street, you definitely don’t want to bring a car here. Luckily, rickshaws and the Careem app (Pakistan’s version of Uber) will ensure you can arrive easily. The mosque is located very close to both Chowk Yadgar and the Sir Cunningham Clock Tower, two other notable Peshawari landmarks. Visitors and worshippers are welcomed daily from 4 AM- 10 PM.
Read more: The Ultimate Guide To Naran, Pakistan
Tajul Masajid, Bhopal, India
Visited by Nisha and Vasu from Lemonicks
Taj-ul-Masajid, one of the largest mosques of India, is located in the heart of Bhopal. It may not be as famous as Jama Masjid of Delhi but it is certainly big. So big that it can accommodate 175,000 devotees at a time! On entering from the side entrance, you can see the largest praying courtyard or Sahn. At 100 Metres to a side, the square courtyard surely looks bigger than Jama Masjid of Delhi.
It was built during the golden era of Bhopal kingdom, when it was ruled by successive women, the Nawab Begums. The construction of this masjid had commenced, during the reign of emperor Bahadur Shah Zafar, by the Nawab Begum of Bhopal, Shah Jehan Begum. What a coincidence! It was her namesake, emperor Shah Jahan, who built the then biggest mosque in Delhi, the Jama Masjid. It is said that she had a dream to build a big mosque and dedicate it to the people.
Due to paucity of funds it was not completed in her lifetime. Construction resumed in 1971 and eventually completed in the year 1985, after more than 100 years!
The minarets are twice as tall as those of Jama Masjid, Delhi. Even the 70-pillared prayer hall made of red sandstone, with its 3 bulbous domes are huge and the beautifully carved arches, roofs, niches, and mihrab are simply breathtaking.
When in Bhopal, Taj-ul-Masajid is definitely a must see.
Wazir Khan Mosque, Lahore, Pakistan
Visited by Samantha from Intentional Detours
The Wazir Khan Masjid in Lahore, Pakistan is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. The Mughal-era relic was constructed under the rule of Emperor Shah Jahan in the 1600s. In case that name seems a bit familiar- that’s because it just might be: Shah Jahan is in fact the same man who is credited with building the famous Taj Mahal over in India.
This centuries-old place of worship is filled with glorious frescoes and is known for its colorful tile work that adorns the exterior and four minarets. Almost every inch of the mosque is lavishly embellished, and conservation work has ensured that this living piece of history remains in good condition even today.
The historically-significant mosque is located in Lahore’s Walled City, not far from what’s known as the Delhi Gate entrance. The best way to reach Wazir Khan is by taking an Uber to the Delhi Gate and walking from there, as parking in and around the area is virtually non-existent. If you happen to be in Lahore, a visit here is a must: Wazir Khan was one of the most magical historical places I saw whilst backpacking through Pakistan.
Though the mosque is free to enter, you might be able to get an incredible view from one of the minarets by paying a bit of baksheesh (small bribe) to one of the caretakers. Nevertheless, keep in mind that a headscarf is required for women to enter and modest, loose-fitting clothes are a must for everyone. Wazir Khan Masjid is open for visitors daily from 5 AM- 8 PM daily and is busiest on Friday afternoons during the weekly Jummah prayer.
Most Iconic Mosques In (South)East Asia
Great Mosque of Xi’an, Xi’an, China
Visited by Beth from Frugal Female Abroad
The Great Mosque in Xi’an is an important mosque that is associated with the Silk Road. Islam was first introduced into China through the Arabian merchants that travelled these routes.
The Great Mosque is one of the oldest in China. Construction of the mosque first commenced in 742 CE, during the Tang dynasty. Additions have been made over the years across many dynasties, making the architecture varied. It is the largest mosque in China with grounds measuring 3 acres.
Travelling to Xi’an is straightforward by either catching a flight or the high-speed train from Beijing. Xi’an is a popular tourist destination for travellers wanting to see the UNESCO site of the Terracotta Army.
The Great Mosque is in the Muslim district of Xi’an. This district is in the centre of the city, near the bell and drum towers. It’s not as easy to find as one would think because, over the years, buildings have been built close to the grounds. These buildings serve to hide the mosque and grounds.
One of the most architecturally significant buildings of the mosque is the Phoenix pavilion. The Great Mosque is styled in Chinese architecture which adds to the uniqueness of this site.
The grounds consist of several gates and buildings that you walk through to get to the next one. At the end of the path is the main prayer hall. The grounds and buildings are intricate and there are so many things to look at and admire.
The Great Mosque of Xi’an is open to visitors; however, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the main prayer hall. Opening hours are from 8 am until 7 pm and there is a small fee to enter the grounds.
The great Mosque is certainly a highlight of a trip to Xi’an.
Masjid Wilayah, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Visited by Soujanya from The Spicy Journey
Masjid Wilayah, also known as the Federal Territory Mosque, is located in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Completed in the year 2000, the mosque is still relatively new. However, despite the lack of historical significance, it is an architectural marvel, taking inspiration from the Blue mosque of Turkey, the minarets of Egypt, and the Taj Mahal in Agra, India.
The dome of Masjid Wilayah is inspired by the iconic Blue Mosque, which is located in Istanbul, Turkey. The minarets around the dome resemble Egyptian ones. Yet the most impressive part of the story is the mosque’s materials. The architects of the mosque had marbles and other stones shipped all the way from India to construct a facade similar to that found in the Taj Mahal, one of the seven wonders of the world.
Visitors can make the most of their visit to this mosque by heading to the information counter and taking up the free audio guide. The guides thoroughly explain the architecture of the mosque, the significance of various Islamic customs, and even hand out free postcards at the end of the tour.
All in all, visiting Masjid Wilayah is one of the unmissable things to do in Kuala Lumpur.
Melaka Straits Mosque, Melaka, Malaysia
Visited by Caroline from C. K. Travels
The floating Melaka Straits Mosque is located in the city of Melaka and is one of the most beautiful buildings in Malaysia. This gold domed mosque was built on a man-made island in 2006 and constructed on stilts above the sea – so when the water levels rise during high tide, the mosque appears to float.
The architecture of the mosque is stunning, and the design is mostly Islamic with four corner turrets that are topped with typical Malaysian rooflines. The facade of the mosque is decorated with stained glass windows, and the grounds in front of the mosque have simple and well maintained gardens.
The building is extremely popular with day trippers and photographers. The evening view of mosque is magnificent and that is the recommended time to visit if you want to photograph the mosque in front of a colourful sunset over the ocean, and to also view the mosque beautifully lit up.
The mosque welcomes non-muslim visitors to visit inside but you must dress modestly and remove shoes. – women must bring a scarf or use a rental shawl to cover their head. A change of clothing is provided in the outside changing rooms to ensure you totally cover your body. No visitations are allowed during prayer time.
Melaka Straits Mosque is located a little bit out of town and the best way to visit is by Grab taxi. Entrance into the mosque is free and it is open everyday from 9am.
Most Iconic Mosques In Europe
Blue Mosque, Istanbul, Turkey
Visited by Dani from Diapers In Paradise
The Sultan Ahmed Mosque, more commonly known as the Blue Mosque, is an Ottoman-era mosque located in Istanbul. It stands next to the historically significant Hagia Sofia, but is a major tourist destination of its own.
The Blue Mosque is massive and grandiose, with 5 main domes, 8 secondary domes, and 6 minarets – more than any other mosque in Istanbul. In fact, the inclusion of 6 minarets upset many people at the time. Previously, only the Prophet’s Mosque in Mecca had so many, and it was seen as self-aggrandizing of Sultan Ahmed to put himself on that level.
The mosque is a combination of traditional Islamic, Ottoman, and Byzantine architecture, and is widely considered the last great mosque of the classical period. But the true art historical highlight is the interior tilework. The Blue Mosque is most famous for its 20,000 hand-painted Iznik tiles. The primary upper designs are in a stunning shade of blue, for which the mosque is nicknamed.
Visitors to the Blue Mosque should keep in mind that it is a functioning mosque, and prepare for your visit accordingly. Do not come during times of prayer, and ensure that your head, shoulders, and legs are properly covered. They do have scarves and robes available, but it is always best to bring your own. While tourists are expected to be respectful and keep their voices down, children are welcome – you’ll see local kids running around on the soft carpet – making the Blue Mosque an appropriate destination even if you travel with a baby or kids.
It is easy to access, as it is right in the middle of Sultanahmet Square, the historical heart of Istanbul. Within a short walk, you can visit the Blue Mosque, Hagia Sofia, the Hippodrome, and Topkapi Palace.
Great Mosque of Paris, Paris, France
Visited by Maartje and Sebastiaan from The Orange Backpack
The Grand Mosque in Paris is one of the most beautiful mosques in the world. The design is beautiful and very different from all the other sights in Paris. This off the beaten track gem in Paris is a must-visit on your bucket list for France.
The Grand Mosque is the third-largest mosque in Europe and the biggest in Paris. The design was inspired by mosques in the Arab world. The mosque in Fez, famous in Morocco and the rest of the world, was the main inspiration for the design. The 33-meter tall minaret was designed after one in Tunesia.
To make sure the architecture would live up to the importance of the mosque and its inspirations in Morocco and Tunesia, specialized craftsmen from North Africa were asked to make it. They finished their work in 1926, after which it was opened by the Moroccan sultan.
The result is beautiful. The impressive minaret makes you feel like in the Middle-East instead of western Europe. The highlight is the beautiful garden from which you have a great view of the minaret. The garden with its mosaics, fountains, and Moorish arches is a peaceful oasis in busy Paris and is one of the most instagrammable places in the city.
Most of the mosque is open for visitors. You can find it at the south bank of the Seine river, not far from the Pantheon and Jardin du Luxembourg.
Hagia Sofia, Istanbul, Turkey
Visited by Sarah from A Social Nomad
Hagia Sofia in Turkey’s Istanbul is unique in many ways. It was originally built in the 6th century as a Christian church. Following the Turkish conquest of Istanbul – then Constantinople, it was repurposed as a mosque in 1453. President Ataturk converted it from religious use in 1934 and it was turned into a museum in 1935. It became part of the UNESCO World Heritage site called the Historic areas of Istanbul in 1985 and is famous for its mosaics as well as its complex history. Hagia Sofia has survived several earthquakes, although it has required rebuilding and additions through the years. Most recently, in 2020, President Erdogan converted Hagia Sofia back into a mosque. However, as one of Turkey’s most visited buildings, visitors are still allowed to visit Hagia Sofia. This conversion is a somewhat controversial decision, but Hagia Sofia is a major reason to visit Istanbul!
The dress code for Hagia Sofia is as with all mosques and religious buildings in Turkey, conservative. Cover your shoulders and knees. Remove your shoes upon entry, although there are some areas of the museum where you may keep your shoes on.
Hagia Sofia is easy to visit since it is located in the famous Sultanhamet Square in the centre of Istanbul. It is open from 09:00 to 17:00 in winter and until 1900 in summer. However, as Hagia Sofia is now operating as a mosque it is closed to non-Muslim visitors during worship times. It is best to check prayer times in Istanbul prior to visit – a simple search for “Istanbul Ezan Saatleri” which will show you the current prayer times. To visit Hagia Sofia it’s recommended to arrive early, as lines can be long. There are no longer fees to enter Hagia Sofia following its reconversion to a mosque.
King Fahad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Mosque, Gibraltar
Visited by Paulina from Paulina On The Road
The King Fahad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Mosque is one of the Most Iconic Mosques in the World, located at the Europa Point in Gibraltar, a British overseas territory connected to Spain. Also known as the Ibrahim- al- Ibrahim Mosque or the Mosque of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, it is one of the most iconic mosques in Europe. The construction was financed from the donations of the late King Fahad of Saudi Arabia and wealthy locals at the cost of £5 million and it took two years to complete. It was officially opened for the public on August 8th, 1997.
The Mosque’s ground floor is 985 square meters in total, housing six classrooms, a library, kitchen, toilet, conference hall, and the Iman’s house. It is ornated by gold-colored materials, marble floors, and beautiful lamps and carpets, incorporating both Islamic and modern architecture. This makes visiting the King Fahad Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud Mosque one of the best things to do in Gibraltar.
However, be aware of the following guidelines:
• The mosque is open daily for tourists and worshippers from Monday to Sunday, from 11 am to 3 pm.
• Both women and men should keep their shoulders covered and women need to cover their hair, no shorts or tight pants are allowed.
• Visitors are required to make an appointment beforehand to tour the Mosque.
• Pork and alcohol are strictly prohibited inside the premises.
To reach the Mosque, visitors need to walk from the Upper Rock reserve, via Europa Road, if on foot. Otherwise, take Bus 2 to Europa Point.
Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque, Mostar, Bosnia
Visited by Mark from Wyld Family Travels
The Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque in Mostar is by default an iconic mosque and one of the most popular destinations in town. Its ideal location on the banks of the Neretva River and its proximity to the UNESCO World Heritage Old City make it an ideal point for tourists to get some of the best photos possible of the famous Mostar Bridge.
The mosque was built in 1618 by the Koskija brothers in a traditional Ottoman style when Bosnia was part of the Otterman Empire. Its minaret is accessible to visitors and offers breathtaking view of the entire town. The interior is small at only 12,4 x 12,4 meters but its beautiful and intricate Ottoman-style design make it well worth a visit. The mosque was badly damaged during the Balkans War but has been reconstructed since.
Compared to other mosques, the dress code of the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque is quite lenient and women are not required to cover their hair. However, it is a good idea to stay modest regardless of the rules to pay respect to the religion. Any trip to Mostar should include a visit to the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque
La Mezquita De Córdoba, Córdoba, Spain
Visited by Joanna from The World In My Pocket
The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, or la Mezquita as its locally known as, is one of the most intriguing religious monuments in Andalucia, Southern Spain. Every trip to Cordoba must include a visit to the Mezquita, not only to learn about the fascinating history and its role in the city’s development but also to admire its stunning architecture. You need to plan at least half a day to visit it, and a guided tour is highly recommended.
Today, the Mezquita is known as the Cathedral of Our Lady of the Assumption. On the inside, however, you will not find a cathedral, but a mosque, with a beautiful patio shaded by orange, cypress and palm trees.
The Mezquita was built in the 8th century, on the ruins of the Visigoth San Vicente Basilica, as a modest mosque, inspired by the Damascus architecture. As the centuries past, the Mezquita was expanded more and more, until the 12th century, when the Moors added their mark with the iconic patio, the mosaic decorations, and the water features.
From the middle of the 12th century, the Mosque was transformed into a Cathedral, and Catholic elements were added to the building, such as naves, chapels, choir stalls and the Latin cross layout.
Today, visiting the Mezquita is a beautiful history lesson. Each wall, each marble, each piece of wood, tells a different story. In the basement of the building there are still the remains of the old 6th century San Vicente Basilica. The altarpiece from the old San Pedro chapel hides the remains of the Mihrab, which were restored in the 19th century. The arcade hall is probably one of the most impressive parts of the interior of the Mezquita, with its 856 columns made from the same marble and semi-precious stones as the basilica San Vicente.
The Mezquita had a very important role during the Moorish times and was part of the growth of a modern Cordoba in which Christians, Muslims, and Jews lived in harmony.
By the end of this list, you have probably noticed that the most iconic mosques in the world come in all shapes and colors can be found anywhere in the world. Some are huge, some are tiny. Some are centuries old, some barely a decade. Some used to be churches, museums, or military garrisons, some are churches now. The key realization I want you to take away from this list is that mosques around the world are extremely diverse just like their visitors. Therefore, you’ll never run out of magnificent places to visit, not even after completing this bucket list with the most iconic mosques in the world.