Haroun Vilayat is reputed to be the son of Ali al-Hadi (the tenth Imam), but he is also said to be the son of Hasan al-Askari (the eleventh Imam) and the grandson of Imam Jafar the (sixth Imam).

The Shrine of Haroun Vilayat, built in 1512, and designed by "Ostad Hussein", possibly, the father of the architect of the Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque, is situated to the north of a side street leading from the square next to the Masjed-e-Jomeh, to the bazaar. More or less opposite you will see the main entrance to the Masjed-e-Ali.

The shrine is noteworthy for its dome, which is considered to be one of the finest in Isfahan and the panelwork at the entrance to the sanctuary chamber. However there are a number of interesting features which seem to be absent from most accounts of the shrine, these include some intriguing murals at the entrance to the shrine and the unusual degree of naturalism and fluidity in the kufic inscriptions at the base of the dome and in the arabesque designs of the mosaic tilework at the entrance to the shrine.

The shrine marks the renaissance of Isfahani tilework. Pope has said of it:

"The Mausoleum of Harun-i-Vilayat ... is worthy in perfection of design, skill in cutting, and beauty of colour, to take its place with the masterpieces of the east" Op. cit. p.1331.
Both this and the Masjed-e-Ali have limited opening times; the best time to visit is either at six-o-clock in the evening or mid-day. The Sanctuary chamber of Haroun Vilayat has been converted into a 'Husseiniyeh', or religious theatre for the performance of passion plays about the death of Imam Hussein, and is therefore only open while these are being performed, however the shrine itself is open at all times.


Last Updated December 20, 1998