A balance between contemporary and ancient designs, modern styles and early religious connotations, the Middle East is home to some of the world’s finest architecture.

Burj Khalifa, Dubai

The Burj Khalifa rising up towards the sunshine

The world’s tallest structure, measuring a sky-scraping 2,723 ft from the ground level to the tip, the Burj Khalifa is a phenomenal building to see in the Dubai skyline. Featuring a triple-lobed footprint inspired by the regional desert flower, Hymenocallis, the three wings symbolise petals growing from a stem. This floorplan, designed by architect Adrian Smith, maximises the views of the Arabian Gulf and allows natural light to come flooding in, making the panorama even more dramatic.

Museum of Islamic Art, Qatar

The Museum of Islamic Art illuminated at night

Ralf Steinberger / Flickr.com, CC BY 2.0

With the main building set on an artificial peninsula, the Museum of Islamic Art is a beauty to behold. Designed by world-renowned architect, I.M. Pei, the building is a perfect mix of modernist and cubist themes with influences taken from ancient architecture.

The limestone wall’s sharp edges capture the light and shade of the building, while the theme of geometric patterns continues into the entrance hall. Here, a curved double staircase leads to the first floor which is overlooked by a spectacular circular chandelier.

Dome on the Rock, Jerusalem

The gold dome of the Dome of the Rock glinting in the sunshine in Jerusalem

A shimmering landmark in the sacred destination of Jerusalem, the Dome on the Rock is the oldest Islamic monument, designed as a shrine for pilgrims. Its golden-domed rooftop is the defining feature made of copper and aluminium then covered in gold leaf, a shining symbol of Muslim history and religion.

Umayyad caliph, Abd al-Malik, wished the building to be a symbolic statement to other faiths, with inscriptions dotted around the inside of the dome. Floral decorations in red and gold sweep around the interior, making it a wonderful building both inside and out.

Sheikh Zayed Mosque, Abu Dhabi

Floral pillars bordering the Sheikh Zayed Mosque in Abu Dhabi

The lasting vision of the late, first president of the United Arab Emirates, the Sheikh Zayed Mosque is a marble masterpiece. Finished with Swarovski chandeliers, decorations inlaid with mother of pearl and home to the largest handmade carpet in the world, the mosque is a wonderful hint to the craftsmanship undertaken to finish this build.

96 marble pillars line the main prayer hall, where calligraphers supervised writings of verses from the Holy Quran as well as illustrations of unique plants which were exclusively designed for the mosque.

Nasir ol Mulk Mosque, Iran

Elaborate pillars inside the Nasir Ol Mulk Mosque in Iran

Dan / Flickr.com, CC BY-SA 2.0

Built in the late 19th Century, Nasir ol Mulk Mosque was a 12-year-long project which revealed a magnificent masterpiece of design and colour. The stained-glass windows cast a rainbow of shadows on to the floor, each morning painting a beautiful geometric pattern in the sunshine. The architecture hints at the tile-making and shapes which flourished in the Golden Age of Islam, from its archways to the floor tiles.

With elaborate designs and stunning structures, the Middle East is not short on its dose of beautiful buildings. Colourful carpets and decadent décor can be seen almost everywhere throughout the region, making it a must-see destination for architecture lovers.

Have you visited any of these landmarks? Let us know using the comment box below!

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Emma Smith
Emma has more than six years' experience as a writer and has been in the travel industry for over a year. She loves learning of new places and cruise ships coming to market, as well as discovering fun and exciting activities to do while you sail. She has cruised with Royal Caribbean and is looking to get something in diary for 2020! Her favourite things to see on a ship include excellent entertainment, a delicious cocktail menu and extraordinary dining venues.

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