20 January 2015

Another side of the Middle East

Depending on political orientation, Americans tend to view the Middle East either as a nest of religious fanatics obsessed with murdering each other and everyone else, or as a passive victim/object of Western intervention.  Well, the fanatics exist (and loom large), and the Western meddling has gone on for generations (mostly with bad results), but such views shortchange the region's achievements in culture and civilization.  You see the violence of the few, but miss the magnificence built over centuries.

The literature and history of an unfamiliar society can seem opaque without considerable study, but one side of civilization that anyone can appreciate is architecture.  It's one of the things that attracted my interest to the Middle East in the first place.  The majority of the structures shown here were built for religious purposes -- but so were the great cathedrals of Europe.  It reflects a time when religion so dominated society that the greatest artistic talents were channeled into its domain.

Click on any picture for a larger version (small versions don't do them justice).

Maydan-e-Shâh (Royal Square), Isfahan, Iran

Shrine of Imam Hussein, Karbalâ, Iraq

Shâh Cherâgh mosque, Shîrâz, Iran

Nasir al-Mulk mosque, Shîrâz, Iran

The bazaar, Tabrîz, Iran -- a "mall" centuries old

Khaju Bridge, Isfahan, Iran

Imam Mosque, Isfahan, Iran

Dome of the Rock, Jerusalem, Israel

Shrine of Imam Ali, Najaf, Iraq

Eventually the fanaticism and violence will pass, as they did in Europe.  This will remain.


Blogger Ahab said...

Magnificent. I didn't realize that the Middle East held such architectural treasures. Nasir al-Mulk mosque and Imam Mosque are almost psychedelic in their blazing color and angles.

20 January, 2015 12:27  
Blogger Shaw Kenawe said...

These are spectacularly beautiful.

I had the pleasure of seeing some architectural treasures from the Arab influence in Sicily.

But nothing compares with what you've shown us here.

21 January, 2015 15:50  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Thanks for the comments. I could easily have posted dozens more such pictures. I hope to go back to the Middle East someday, once it's at peace again.

22 January, 2015 03:48  

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