This is the main square of the Friday Mosque. It is surrounded by four eivans or porticos and in the centre there is a small pool surmounted by a square, arched cover. The picture above is taken looking more or less North East from the entrance to the main, or south-western eivan. On the left is the Western Eivan and beyond it a tall vertical doorway leads to the winter prayer gallery where the intricate sutcco mehrab of Oljeitu, the grandson of Genghiz Khan, can be found. Straight ahead you can see the Northern Eivan, in front of which there is a small, lotus-shaped pool. Inside the northern eivan there is fine stucco kufic and beyond this is the entrance to the chamber of Taj ul-Mulk, the great rival of Nizam ul-Mulk, whose sanctuary lies behind you. The sanctuary chamber is designed round two inter-locking sets of golden-sections, and, as if to emphasise the significance of this, the architect has placed a double pentacle in the roof vault, since the basis of the golden section is the square root of five.

On the right is the Eastern Eivan which has a fine Safavid ceiling and just beyond this on the right there is the entrance to an area known as the 'Dais of Omar'. The exact purpose of this area remains unclear. It is thought to have housed a theological school amongst the old cloisters but it is also remarkable for the magnificent tilework over the main eivan which depicts a pair of spectacular peonies on the spandrels. The Mehrab inside is almost the only surviving structure which was erected during the Afghani occupation of the city at the end of the 18th Century C.E.

Golombek and Wilbur have suggested that the upper storey of the arcade surrounding the meidan may be of more recent origin than the lower one 'since the upper storey seems squat in proportion to the lower one', and also draw attention to the modification to the north-western side which led to the construction of the two-storey portal which leads into the Winter Prayer Gallery contaiing the magnificient stucco mehrab of Oljeitu which is dated 1310 C.E., (i.e. considerably later than the original rebuilding of the mosque during the 12th century

Last Updated December 29, 1998