Tabriz is the historical, cultural and economic center in the northwestern part of Iran. Boasting a rich history and culture, Tabriz is home to historical heritage, fabulous mosques, astonishing churches, fortresses and stunning landscapes. One of the highlights of the city is the magnificent Jame mosque (Jome Mosque) with impressive mixture of old and new architectural features. However, despite its grandeur, the mosque enjoys simple design without overusing of decorative features. The Jame mosque is recorded as a national heritage in 1310 and visiting it is an integrated part of every Tabriz tours.
The Jame mosque of Tabriz Also known as Friday Mosque, Tabriz Central Mosque, and Kabiri Jameh Mosque, is one of the most grandiose mosque in Tabriz and in Iran. Constructed in Seljuk era in the 10th and 11 century, the mosque is located at one end of the Grand Bazaar of Tabriz and in the south wing of Talabie Mosque, another historical monuments in the area.
The Jame mosque is mostly famous for its intricate mihrab, beautiful iwans, brick arches, the wide mosaic dome and its two three-tiered minarets rising above the mosques entrance. These features are the fine example of Islamic-Persian architecture and the expertise of Iranian architectures and artists in the past.
Unfortunately the Jame mosque was heavily damaged by the 1779 earthquake. However it was renovated several times afterwards particularly in Qajar era by Hossein-Qoli Khan Donbali, the governors of Tabriz, and a few features were added to it. It is evidenced by a marble inscription on the northern portal entrance of the mosque which indicates the renovation done in the Qajar period. The most recent renovation is done by Haj Mohamad Bagher Kalkate who added a new library and a grand talar to the Jame mosque. The material used for constructing the building were mostly bricks and plaster. It is worth to mention that there is no tile-work nor stone-carving in the mosque which shows the simple and modest design of this sacred place.
The Jame Mosque architecture
Based on historical and architectural studies, the Jame mosque had gone under different stages of constructions. It seems that the mosque functioned primarily as a praying room which was then inverted into a mosque and two iwans were added to it. It is believed that the plan of the Sassanid palace (Firuz Abad Palace) had influenced the building of the mosque. The current plan of the Jame mosque is a square shaped area measuring 62 m long.
Actually the mosque is divided into two parts, the northern part with 32 m long and the southern part with 28 m long and narrower than the northern part. There are two entrance doors in the northern and southern part of the Jame mosque. The northern door opens to the vast apron of the mosque and the southern door opens to the alley next to the mosque.
The mihrab and the inscriptions in the Jame Mosque
At far end of the southern part of the mosque there is an exquisite marble mihrab which is adorned with delicate spiral designs resembling the style of Safavid era. Above this mihrab there is a Kufic inscription embellished with stucco-work, dating back to Ilkhanid era. There is also another inscription in the western part of the central dome belonging to Shah Tahmasb Safavi. The inscription was written in beautiful Sols calligraphy by Allae- Din- Mohamaad Tabrizi, the famous calligrapher of Safavid dynasty. The inscription explains a dream scene of Shah Tahmasb who was summoned by Imam Zaman ( The 12th Imam of Shia Muslems) to eliminate taxes and to treat his people with mercy. Other inscription on the portal of the mosque was written by Mohamad Momen Tabrizi dating to 1106 AH. The inscription includes a command by Safavid king to Rostam Khan Salar Sepah and Beglar Beigi Azerbayjan to close every gamble house and prostitute house in the region and to ban any hostile and decadent behavior such as bullfighting, wolf hunting, ram stabbing, pigeon raising and to punish the felons.
Shabestans of Jame mosque
At the eastern and western parts of the mosque, there are 5 two-storied ceilings measuring from 40 to 60 m long and 30 to 60 m wide. It is believed that the construction of these ceilings dates back to Qajar era.
Another part of the mosque is a large dark mosque behind the western wing of the mosque with ten columns and brick arched ceiling which is believed to be used during winter.
The oldest part of the mosque is a Shabestan (praying hall) with octagonal capitals and delicate stucco work dating back to Seljuk era. Besides that, it seems a high dome was built in the northern part of this Shabestan which was ordered by Shah Beigom, the wife of Uzun Hasan, the Qaraquyulu king. The dome was adorned with some mosaic decorations of which only the lower part is remained today.
There is also another Shabestan in the northeastern part of the mosque called Sheikh Sadegh Mosque. Hojat Allah Mosque is another Shabestan in the west side of the mosque which went under several renovations.
Another Shabestan is located in the southeastern side of the mosque named Alachagh Mosque. In recent renovation, the remains of Safavid arches were removed from the latter Shabestan and a new vast praying hall was constructed upon it.
The Schools of Jame Mosque
Moreover, the mosque comprises two madrasas (school): Talebie Madrasa in the north and Jafarie Madrasa in the east side of the mosque which are destroyed completely in recent years. Based on the historical documents and information, the northern school were built in the 11th century and the eastern school and the related library were built in 1327. In recent years, the north and west wing of Talebie school were restored in 3 storey, and a high portal with two rising minarets were added to the west wing of the school.
The Jame mosque in Tabriz is one of the oldest historical mosque in Tabriz and Iran which is a must for everyone who travel to Iran and Tabriz.