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Shah Cheragh Mausoleum, Shiraz, Iran

Shah Cheragh mausoleum and mosque stands in the Iranian city of Shiraz on the grave of Ahmad and Muhammad - the sons of one of the descendants of the Prophet Muhammad (the Shiite branch of Islam honors the closest descendants of Mohammed as saints). According to tradition, Shah Cheragh was founded and became a shrine in the 12th century, after Ayatollah Dastghaib (ayatollahs are Shia religious leaders) once noticed a light, shining bright from distant. After reaching the source of the light, he found a grave, where two people were buried - both in military uniform. One of them had a ring with his and his father’s names written on it. Thanks to this ring, it became clear that these two were saints Ahmad and Muhammad, who died in the early 9th century. Two centuries later, it was decided to create a mausoleum of unprecedented beauty in the honor of Ahmad and Muhammad.

In the first half of the 12th century a simple tomb was constructed on their graves. The tomb had a dome and a porch with a colonnade. Two centuries later, in 1344-49, the building was remodeled and expanded thanks to the efforts of Queen Tash Khatun. She also donated to Shah Cheragh a Quran of thirty volumes, richly decorated with gold and precious stones. Fortunately, this Quran preserved to our days, but it was replaced to the one of the museums of Shiraz.

Over the next few centuries, Shah Cherah several times was damaged by earthquakes and later renovated. Today, the mausoleum is a spacious room with ten columns on the east side and a mosque - on the west. The mausoleum’s dome is located in the center and on both sides of it two minarets are located. There are also numerous tombs here, including the tomb of Queen Khatun.

From outside the mausoleum is unremarkable – a very common for Islamic architecture sand-colored building with traditional Iranian mosaics. But after entering the mausoleum you will understand why Shah Cheragh is also known as the Mirror mosque. Entire interior of the mosque is covered with patterns of colored glass, mirrors and silvered plates. The interior of the mausoleum is shinning with all the fabulous shades of silver, blue and green. The choice of this inner decoration was a result of the myth about the discovery of the tombs of Ahmad and Muhammad. Shah Cheragh’s inner decoration justifies its name (Shah Cheragh in Persian means king of the light).

By Anna Pambukhchyan,


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