Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

One of the things I love about travel is getting to see unique cultural and architectural wonders around the globe. I had seen various pictures of Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque before, but in real, it wowed me even more than expected.

Entering the mosque

Entering the mosque

With a capacity for around 40,000 worshippers, Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is the largest mosque in the UAE and the 8th largest in the world. This monument commemorates Islamic culture and is a significant place of worship located in the country’s capital, Abu Dhabi.

Founded and instigated by the first president of the UAE, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, this mosque was his vision, and it became a reality when it opened in December 2007. He passed away before construction was complete, and his mausoleum is within the same grounds in the gardens beside the mosque (Photography in this area is not allowed).

Through the arches

Through the arches

The notion of diversity and the ideology of uniting the world come alive in details of the mosque. Materials were sourced from various countries and the design is heavily influenced by art and architecture from all over. Due to their enduring quality, natural materials such as marble, gold, ceramic, crystal and semi-precious stones were used in the construction.

Influences of Mughal, Islamic and Moorish architectures

Influences of Mughal, Islamic and Moorish architectures

I was instantly reminded of the Taj Mahal and for a good reason. Mughal architecture was a major source of inspiration for the design, along with Islamic and Moorish architectures. Repetitive patterns and symmetry are prominent in the design.

Marble from Macedonia contributes to the most distinctive feature of the mosque, the striking white color. Other areas also boast the finest marble from Italy and Greece.

Two of the four minarets

Two of the four minarets

There are 4 minarets and a total of 82 domes. Moroccan artwork beautifully adorns the inside of the domes, along with scriptures from the Quran.

Moroccan artwork inside a dome and verses from the Quran

Moroccan artwork inside a dome and verses from the Quran

Another marvelous feature comes in the form of a large floral marble mosaic in the courtyard.

Marble mosaic in the courtyard

Marble mosaic in the courtyard

There are beautiful ceramic tiles on the outer walls that are unmistakably and traditionally Turkish. As for columns, there are over a thousand of them! The colorful flowers were formed on the marble using semi-precious stones including Mother of Pearl from India.

Beautiful symmetry in the hallwayBlue chandelier in the foyer

The German-made gold, colorful and colossal crystal chandeliers are nothing short of spectacular and look like upside down palm trees. The blue chandelier in the foyer entrance looked exquisite too.

Colorful gold and crystal chandelier in the prayer hall

Colorful gold and crystal chandelier in the prayer hall

In the main prayer hall is also where you will find the world’s largest carpet. It doesn’t come grander than this! Imported from Iran, it’s a massive hand-knotted carpet with subtle horizontal lines which makes it easy for worshippers to align during prayer.

Inside the prayer hallMore stunning details

The main wall, known as the Qibla wall, in the center of the prayer hall really drew me in. Fiber-optic lighting is integrated into the design; and engraved with 99 names (or qualities) of Allah, it faces the direction of Mecca.

Qibla wall with fiber-optic lighting in the center of the prayer hall

Qibla wall with fiber-optic lighting in the center of the prayer hall

A closer look at the beautiful engraved wall

A closer look at the beautiful engraved wall

And’s there’s a wall clock that describes prayer times.

Wall clock describing prayer times

Wall clock describing prayer times

Imported from Italy, Murano glasswork carved in floral design can be found on the walls and doors.

Murano glasswork on the wall

Murano glasswork on the wall

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at dusk

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at dusk

A few things worth keeping in mind:

As always, while traveling anywhere, respect is important. While in the premises, behave and dress conservatively.

Evenings are a great time to visit as you can see how stunning the mosque looks as the sun sets, and as night falls when it is illuminated according to phases of the moon.

There is no entry fee for visiting the mosque. Plus, there are free guided tours daily and each lasts a little under an hour. I found the tour quite informative and entertaining. For timings and more details, you can check the official site of the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque.

Admiring this grand masterpiece Illumination according to moon phase

I was very impressed with the mosque’s architecture and gorgeous details – pictures don’t do justice. A beautiful place of worship and a great work of art; Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is indeed a grand masterpiece. Don’t you think so?

More pictures:

The hubby, also in awe of the mosque's details

The hubby, also in awe of the mosque’s details

Reflection pool surrounding the mosque

Reflection pool surrounding the mosque

The mosque at night

The mosque at night

A black and white shot

A black and white shot

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at night as seen from the street

Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque at night as seen from the street

Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links, but as always, all opinions are my own.

Comments: 14

  1. Nita, I’d never heard of this mosque before but it looks so stunning – and absolutely enormous! I’ve been pondering over the idea of a short break to the Middle East and perhaps Abu Dhabi would make for an interesting destination for that! I’d love to see this place!

    • Nita Feb 25 at 3:55 pm Reply

      Hey Shikha! Yeah, it’s absolutely remarkable. You’d love it. All the details are just exquisite. Abu Dhabi is great and has plenty of cool restaurants so it’d be a good choice. Hope you make it there very soon! Thanks for dropping by :)

  2. Katie Featherstone Feb 26 at 6:08 pm Reply

    Wow, what incredible architecture! Your photos are amazing- I love how clean and new everything looks in white. I’m glad you and your husband had such a great experience. I would love to visit. :)

    • Nita Feb 26 at 7:26 pm Reply

      Thank you so much, Katie! Glad you liked the pictures :) Everything did look white and clean; very pure and soothing to the eyes. I hope you get to visit soon!

  3. Suzanne - Travelbunny Feb 27 at 3:17 am Reply

    Such a stunning building – quite beautiful and I love that it has features from Germany, Greece and Italy. Your photos are gorgeous too.

    • Nita Feb 27 at 9:41 am Reply

      Right? I was really impressed with the architecture. Thank you very much, Suzanne! :)

  4. Wilbur Mar 9 at 9:25 pm Reply

    It looks stunning and you have taken some great shots. I have just added it to my list! It reminded me of a place that brought me tears with its beauty. The Umayyad Mosque in Damascus is without doubt the greatest mosque that I have ever seen. I believe the ones in Iran and Uzbekistan are totally awesome too – life’s too short! Wilbur

    • Nita Mar 10 at 4:23 am Reply

      Thank you very much, Wilbur! Pleased that you enjoyed the post and liked the pictures :) It wasn’t difficult because the mosque really is that stunning; a must-see indeed. There’s just so much incredible architecture to appreciate in this world.

  5. Taylor Hearts Travel Mar 10 at 3:03 am Reply

    Looks so serene and beautiful. I’m not surprised you took so many photos – I’d be exactly the same!

    • Nita Mar 10 at 4:26 am Reply

      Yes, it really was! And I took a lot of pictures 😀 It was already tough to narrow down to just these. Guess it’s natural when a place impresses you immensely and you just want to try your absolute best to capture its beauty. Thanks, Taylor :)

  6. Fabiana Mar 17 at 8:57 am Reply

    What a stunning place! I’d love to go some time.

    • Nita Mar 20 at 2:35 pm Reply

      Thank you, Fabiana! Hope you get to :)

  7. Alain Mar 20 at 2:19 am Reply

    I’ve never been to a mosque.
    But why do I have the feeling this one is going to be my very first? :)

    • Nita Mar 20 at 2:41 pm Reply

      And it would be an amazing choice for a first :) Thank you for stopping by, Alain!

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