Posts tagged ‘Mosque’

Koutoubia Mosque

The Koutoubia Mosque is one of Marrakech’s oldest buildings, dating back to the 12th century. It’s minaret formed the blueprint for the Giralda in Seville, which I posted about a couple of years ago.

Unfortunately, as with nearly all mosques in Morocco, non-Muslims are not allowed to enter the Koutoubia. To be honest I found this mildly annoying……we’ve visited mosques in Cairo, Jordan, Istanbul and Old Delhi before now, without any of the restrictions that apply in Morocco.

Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech, Morocco, North Africa

Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech, Morocco, North Africa

Koutoubia Mosque, Marrakech, Morocco, North Africa

© Mark Simms Photography (2015)

Taj Mahal: Other Buildings

The Taj Mahal complex is bounded on three sides by crenellated red sandstone walls, with the fourth side, facing the Yamuna river, left open. These walls are cornered by ornate watch-towers and accessed through the huge great gate.

Within these walls lie the 300m square charbagh or Mughal garden and, on either side of the main tomb, the mosque and the jawab (a building almost identical to the mosque that exists almost exclusively to provide architectural balance and symmetry – although it may also have been used as a guesthouse).

© Mark Simms Photography (2014)

Qutb Minar Complex

The Qutb Minar (named after Qutb-ud-din-Aibak – the first Sultan of Delhi and founder of the Mamluk Dynasty of India) is part symbol of Islamic victory over the “infidels” in India and part minaret to the attached Might of Islam Mosque. Construction started in 1199 and it consists of five stories, the first three built by Qutb and the fourth by his son-in-law Iltutmish. The fifth storey was added at the same time as the tower was being repaired after being damaged by lightning in 1368.

Whilst the Qutb Minar itself clearly draws much of its architectural inspiration from the Muslim world, the Might of Islam Mosque (the earliest surviving in India) is very much a fusion of both Indian and Islamic styles. For me, it’s this clash of cultures and architectural traditions that makes the Qutb Minar complex one of the most fascinating historic monuments that we saw in India. This was helped, in no small way, by the rapidly fading light bathing everything in a sumptuous golden glow and casting dramatic shadows across the stone work……perfect conditions for photography:

© Mark Simms Photography (2014)

Jama Masjid

If you’ve been following my blog you’ll know that Liz and I recently visited Northern India for a short tour of Delhi, Agra, Ranthambhore, Ramathra and Jaipur. Well we are now back and I’m ready to start sharing some of the 1200 photographs that I captured.

I’m planning a series of posts over the next few weeks/months to document the trip – largely these will follow the chronological order of the tour, although I do have a couple of themed posts in mind as well.

First up is the magnificent red sandstone and white marble Jama Masjid or “Friday Mosque” in Old Delhi. Built by Shah Jahan (the Mughal Emperor of Taj Mahal fame) between 1644 and 1658, it is the largest mosque in India with an open courtyard capable of holding 25,000 devotees.

 © Mark Simms Photography (2014)

Seville Cathedral

Before we went to Andalucia I had read about Seville Cathedral being, apparently, the largest Gothic example of its kind in the world. Given this rather grandiose description, and the fact that I have seen some rather impressive medieval Cathedrals back home in the UK (Westminster Abbey, York Minster, Durham, Lichfield, Salisbury and Canterbury to name just a few) I don’t mind telling you that I was expecting something preeeeety big from Seville.

Unfortunately, when I finally clapped eyes on this “monster” for myself, I have to admit to being ever so slightly underwhelmed.

I think the problem is that when I think of a Cathedral I think of very tall buildings, with spires and towers soaring up towards the heavens………and Seville just isn’t like that. The main body of the Cathedral (discounting the Giralda bell tower) is only 37m high. Now don’t get me wrong, that’s not insubstantial, but that height just isn’t in proportion to the 126m long by 83m wide rest of the building. So what you get, rather than the usual soaring, slender and elegant Cathedral buildings that I’m used to, is something that is frankly a bit squat and a bit too square.

What I do like about Seville though, is the variety of architectural styles that it encompasses. To start with, it is a real clash of two cultures – Islamic and Christian. The original 12th Century Mosque was consecrated as a Cathedral in 1248, after the Christians finally reconquered the city from the Moors. However, during the subsequent Christian re-development works (mainly from the 15th Century Gothic through the 16th Century Renaissance to the 17th Century Baroque) the Mosque’s beautiful Orange Tree Courtyard was conserved as was the minaret, which today forms the lower two-thirds of the magnificent 98m tall Giralda bell tower:

The Giralda

Giralda Framed

Orange Tree Courtyard

Door of the Prince

A major disadvantage in having a building that is so long and wide, but relatively low, is that what windows there are really struggle to let in enough light to see properly…let alone take photographs. This is exacerbated by the fact that light is further restricted because the long North side of the Cathedral faces out into the dappled shade of the Orange Tree Courtyard, and the equally long South side is adorned with a maze of chapels, rooms and passages.

To be honest, I’d be hard pressed to think of a Cathedral building that was as poorly lit as Seville….and that is saying something. This, coupled with the fact that I was a “travelling-light-without-tripod-tourist-photographer”, made for less than ideal photographic conditions.

So I apologise in advance for the interior shots below – but needs must I’m afraid as I had to seriously compromise with wide-apertures and high-ISO settings. Well either that or simply not to bother at all…….which of course would never do. Note to self though – must invest in a light travel tripod.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

Blue Mosque

I took this shot sometime ago now, back in September 2010 to be precise. It depicts the magnificent Sultan Ahmed Mosque (popularly known as the Blue Mosque) semi-silhouetted against a fairly dramatic Istanbul sky.

Blue Mosque

So why, I hear you ask, am I now posting images taken two and half years ago? Well I shall tell you….

I’ve been inspired to look again at some of the shots from our Istanbul trip, because an artist friend of ours – Tilly Wilkinson – mentioned to me the other day that she liked the images from this collection, but couldn’t find them on my website. Unfortunately these fell victim (like a few hundred other photos) to the decision I made when I started blogging on WordPress not to post a whole load of shots from my back catalogue, but instead to choose some for my galleries and then to move forward with new images. So although I do have a couple of shots of the Blue Mosque in my Architecture gallery, that is about it…..until now…..:0).

Suitably enthused I shall post some more images from our Istanbul adventure over the next few days and weeks… watch out for those if you’re interested. In fact I may (in those rare lean periods when new work is a little thin on the ground) look to see what other photographic gems I can unearth from the past and share them with you too.

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

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