Articles/How the Kingdom’s historic mosques were constructed

How the Kingdom’s historic mosques were constructed

العناصر الأساسية في المساجد التاريخية

05 FEB 2021

Source: Khuloud Al-Saleh

The old mosques of Saudi Arabia typically have a number of common features, including simple construction, stucco decorations, wooden inscriptions, minarets, domes and even mihrabs (prayer niches) that reflected the design of surrounding buildings.

In major cities there are large mosques for Friday and Eid prayers, with smaller and older mosques typically serving the local neighborhoods. These historic mosques have managed to preserve their heritage and architecture even after being restored.

For example, the Mamluk and Ottoman designs that appeared in the 17th century can be found in certain cities such as Madinah and Makkah – a notable example in the former is the Anbariyah Mosque.

Minarets

The basic components of historical mosques are the minarets, which appeared in the Umayyad era and that of the Prophet (peace be upon him). 

In Tihama and mountainous areas, however, these places of worship do not have minarets. In the Najd region, particularly Al-Qassim, Riyadh and Al-Ahsa, the minarets of historic mosques are cylindrical with a square base. They also have rooms dedicated for Tahajjud (special prayer performed between the nighttime and dawn prayers), such as those found in Al-Qassim’s Unayzah Mosque.

Trellis

The trellis is an open or closed prayer hall adjacent to the Qibla wall. It consists of one or two rows of simply designed columns. The trellis developed over time and its shape influenced by climatic and social factors. It was typically built from mud or stone covered with plaster; mosques in Tihama and mountainous areas constructed these rooms to protect worshipers from the cold weather.

The courtyards of historic mosques overlooking the prayer hall were multi-purpose square areas where villagers used to meet. Mosques also depended on wells to provide worshipers with water for ablution, while others used water channels.