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Beautiful And Imposing Mosques Of The World

Posted: 11/30/11 07:49 AM ET

Europe's great churches were built centuries ago and the great monuments of Judaism are almost invariably antique, but massive, eye-catching Mosques have bloomed all over the world during the last several decades thanks to funding provided by the oil rich and royal. These magnificent structures praise God with their architectural elation, soaring towers, onion domes and brilliant coloring. They aslo draw inspiration from the architectural traditions of the places they've been constructed, from Brunei to Arabia.

Though entering these holy places may not be an option for every traveler, visiting them certainly provides greater insight into how Islam's long artistic tradition has been mixed freely with modern architecture.

Atlas Obscura put together the following guide to some of the world's great mosques to encourage Western travelers to find and enjoy holy places they might not have heard of before.

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  • Malaysia's Floating Mosque

    Malaysia's floating mosque From a distance, the <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/kota-kinabalu-city-mosque" target="_hplink">Kota Kinabalu City Mosque</a> seems to float on top of the water. Although the optical illusion is created by a man-made lagoon nestled around the mosque, the building's reflection in the cool blue water gives the fantastic mosque an air of mystery and beauty. <em>Read more about <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/kota-kinabalu-city-mosque" target="_hplink">Malaysia's Floating Mosque</a> on Atlas Obscura... Friend Atlas Obscura on <a href="www.facebook.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Facebook</a> and Follow us on <a href="www.twitter.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Twitter</a>. </em>

  • Crystal Mosque

    <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/crystal-mosque" target="_hplink">Extravagant mosque</a> honors modern Islam Malaysia's Islamic Heritage Park on Wan Man Island blurs the line between prayer and commerce. Although it is a tourist attraction that cost $80 million, it also features one of the most spectacular Islamic places of worship in the world, the <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/crystal-mosque" target="_hplink">Crystal Mosque</a>. <em>Read more about the <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/crystal-mosque" target="_hplink">Crystal Mosque</a> on Atlas Obscura... Friend Atlas Obscura on <a href="www.facebook.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Facebook</a> and Follow us on <a href="www.twitter.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Twitter</a>. </em>

  • Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque

    <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/sheikh-zayed-mosque" target="_hplink">Whitewashed mosque</a> contains the world's largest carpet... Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is often called the father of the United Arab Emirates. As the first president of the country, he worked to push the UAE into the modern world, and was caught in a crossfire between modernity and tradition throughout his reign. As a lasting monument to his struggle, he began building the Grand Mosque in 1996. Sheikh Zayed died in 2004 and was buried on the grounds of the mosque. Three years later, the impressive building that had cost $545 million to create, finally opened its doors to the public. With a capacity for 40,000 worshippers, it is one of <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/sheikh-zayed-mosque" target="_hplink">the largest mosques</a> in the world. However, its size alone is not its most amazing characteristic. Read more about the <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/sheikh-zayed-mosque" target="_hplink">Grand Mosque</a> on Atlas Obscura... Friend Atlas Obscura on <a href="www.facebook.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Facebook</a> and Follow us on <a href="www.twitter.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Twitter</a>. </em>

  • Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque

    17th century mosque for Shah Abbas' harem <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/sheikh-lotf-allah-mosque" target="_hplink">Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque</a> was completed in 1619 after nearly 20 years of work. Today, the mosque stands as a magnificent and detailed public work. However, when it was originally built it was a private and luxurious place of worship for Shah Abbas I and the women of his court. Adjacent to the mosque is the Ali Qapu palace, where Shah Abbas resided with a sizable harem. Along with commissioning the mosque, Shah Abbas also commissioned an underground passageway between the palace and the place of worship. This allowed the women of his harem to secretly make their passage to the mosque without being seen by passerby on the square, thus giving the building its nickname, the Women's Mosque. <em>Read more about the <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/sheikh-lotf-allah-mosque" target="_hplink">Sheikh Lotfallah Mosque</a> on Atlas Obscura... Friend Atlas Obscura on <a href="www.facebook.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Facebook</a> and Follow us on <a href="www.twitter.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Twitter</a>.</em>

  • Qolşärif Mosque

    Replica of mosque destroyed by Ivan the Terrible in the 16th century In Northwestern Russia, <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/qolsaerif-mosque" target="_hplink">a Disney-like castle</a> seems to magically appear in the town of Kazan. In a passing glance, it seems more like a princess' legendary palace, but the minarets with crescent moons signal something very different, the equally magnificent <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/qolsaerif-mosque" target="_hplink">Qolşärif Mosque</a>. <em>Read more about the <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/qolsaerif-mosque" target="_hplink">Qolşärif Mosque</a> on Atlas Obscura... Friend Atlas Obscura on <a href="www.facebook.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Facebook</a> and Follow us on <a href="www.twitter.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Twitter</a>.</em>

  • Hassan II Mosque

    700-foot-tall minaret built on the Atlantic Ocean It took over seven years and 10,000 craftsman to construct the <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/hassan-ii-mosque/edit" target="_hplink">Hassan II Mosque</a>, but the result is a modern and massive tribute to the former King of Morocco that beautifully blends traditional Moorish architecture with 20th century innovation and equipment. Although it is only the 7th largest mosque in the world, Hassan II claims the title of having the largest minaret. Capped with a spotlight that shines east towards Mecca, the minaret is 700-feet tall, towering above the Atlantic Ocean. Almost lighthouse-like in its position, it is also built directly on the Atlantic Ocean on reclaimed land. <em>Read more about the <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/hassan-ii-mosque" target="_hplink">Hassan II Mosque</a> on Atlas Obscura... Friend Atlas Obscura on <a href="www.facebook.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Facebook</a> and Follow us on <a href="www.twitter.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Twitter</a>.</em>

  • Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque

    A symbol of Islam in oil-rich Brunei From around Bandar Seri Begawan, the capital of Brunei, the golden topped dome of the <a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/sultan-omar-ali-saifuddin-mosque" target="_hplink">Sultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque</a> shines in the night sky. Although its population is only 400,000, 2/3 of the population of Brunei adhere to Islam. Standing as an exclamation point above the Brunei River and built on an artificial lagoon, the golden mosque was built to honor its proud Muslim populous. <em>Read more about the S<a href="http://atlasobscura.com/place/sultan-omar-ali-saifuddin-mosque" target="_hplink">ultan Omar Ali Saifuddin Mosque</a> on Atlas Obscura... Friend Atlas Obscura on <a href="www.facebook.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Facebook</a> and Follow us on <a href="www.twitter.com/atlasobscura" target="_hplink">Twitter</a>.</em>