Every culture builds in its own way, borrowing from the past, developing a distinctive style, then passing on to a new age those special achievements which are proven most worthy. The foundation of all great buildings in Islam was Faith. The earliest major work of Islamic architecture was undertaken during the lifetime of the Prophet Muhammad: the rebuilding of the sanctuary of the Ka'abaat Mecca. Since, Islamic architecture has created a unique design concept, style and form which have survived to this day. The principal architectural types of Islamic buildings are the mosque, with its minaret, the madrassa (school), the tomb (mausoleum), the khan (rest house), the fort, and the palace.
At first, the Arabs adopted Greek methods of design and architectural forms to suit their own purposes. The Byzantine rotunda dome, for example, was used in the seventh century Mosque of 'Umar, or Dome of the Rock, in Jerusalem (685), the earliest existing monument of Islamic architecture. This mosque, built on the site from which the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven, is the work of craftsmen from all corners of the Arab/Islamic Empire.
The method of constructing domes-a recurrent feature of Islamic mosques-is another architectural theme that was passed on to the West. The Arabs introduced a transitional structural support, known as corner stalactites or muqarnasaat, between the dome and the cube which shaped the plan of a mosque.This technique was successfully applied in the Capella Palatina in Palermo, Sicily


The minaret, a Muslim innovation, was inspired by earlier forms. The earliest known minaret at Kairouan, Tunisia (670), is a vast, battlemented tower. The most striking was constructed in Samarra, a Muslim capital of Iraq. It recalled the lofty, spiraling structure, called ziggurats, which the Arabs found in the ancient cities of Babylonia. The minaret, in turn, was adopted by western architects. The Giralda of Seville, which had been built

  originally as a minaret and completed as a bell-tower, was duplicated in Evesham, England. The influence of the minaret may also be seen in innumerable towers of rural medieval English churches and in the campaniles or belltowers of Renaissance Florence (Palazzo Vecchio) and Venice (Piazza San Marco).

The horseshoe arch was an early Islamic form. It became a predominant feature of the Great Mosque of Damascus (707), in Alcazar of Seville and in Santa Maria la Blanca in Toledo. The Muslims also developed the pointed arch which appeared throughout the Arab world especially in the Ahmad Ibn Tulun Mosque in Cairo, more than two centuries


Home Page == > Click on Arab Civilization :)