A sacred landmark long recognized by faithful Muslims has been an ideal location for their religious pilgrimage. Positioned inside the magnifying city of Shiraz is the effulgent Shah Cheragh Shrine. The shrine being a shelter for the followers of Islam to perform their prayers also has been a top tourist attraction for decades. At night, the Shah Cheragh Shrine in Shiraz glows like a luminous gemstone, and with its unique architecture and ornamentations, the adorned walls of the shrine will undoubtedly stun you. Here, we are going to take you to the historical era of Shiraz and learn about the stunning Shah Cheragh Shrine.
Shah Cheragh History
Inside Fars Province, the historic city of Shiraz lies the renowned Holy Shrine of Shah Cheragh that was erected during the Atabegs of Fars Dynasty around the 9th century. The enormous Shah Cheragh Mosque in Shiraz is considered a very important place for Shia Muslims. As hundreds of devotees gather to pray and recite the Quran, this monument stands as a well-founded location to fulfill their duties.
An interesting fact about the Shah Cheragh Shrine is “Who is buried in Shiraz Shrine?” The Shrine is a tomb for “Ahmed bin Musa” who was Imam Reza’s brother (one of the descendants of Prophet Muhammed). While Ahmed bin Musa was on his journey to reunite with his brother, he was killed by the hands of Abbasid caliph al-Ma’mun in Shiraz in the 8th century.
Shah Cheragh Name Meaning
The name “Shah Cheragh” translates to “King of the Light”. There is backstory to the origin of the name of the Shrine. According to ancient legends, there were houses built by the burial of Ahmed bin Musa. One day Ayatullah Dastghā’ib residing in his house sees a glowing light from his window flashing like an enormous diamond. The light would shine every Friday and this made Ayatullah Dastghā’ib very curious. He decided to discuss this matter with Adud al-Dawla, the ruler of Persia. The ruler asked him to show him the glowing light.
At night, when Adud al-Dawla was sleeping, the bright light shines again, this time with extreme luminosity. Ayatullah Dastghā’ib quickly shouted “Shah Cheragh” and woke the ruler from his deep slumber. Adud al-Dawla instantly rose and was stunned by what was upon him. He abruptly asked his men to investigate where the light was shining from. Once they located the site, they began digging the ground. Only to find the burial of Ahmed bin Musa where the light was emitting from. Later, by the order of Adud al-Dawla, a shrine with a dome was built for Ahmed bin Musa.
The shrine was left untouched for a century until Queen Tash Khātūn, mother of Abu Ishaq Inju, ruler of Iran who ruled from 1343 to 1357, gave orders to decorate and embellish the shrine, as well as enlarge it with a larger dome in the early 13th century. She also innovated the area by establishing a school, a bazaar, a hall of audience, and a tomb for herself in the southern part of the Shah Cheragh Shrine. Queen Tash Khātūn also bestowed a holy book of the Quran with thirty volumes decorated with golden thuluth characters. Hence, the shrine also served as a mosque.
The Shah Cheragh Shrine underwent changes during the reign of Shah Ismail Safavi in 1506. In spite of that, eighty-five years after the reconstruction, that is in 1588, a massive earthquake partly damaged the Shah Cheragh Mosque in Shiraz. Henceforth, in 1729 during the rule of Nader Shah, the Shrine was rehabilitated and brought back into existence. However, due to the numerous cracks in the dome of the shrine, Nader Shah ordered to attach a large concave structure made of silver and gold under the dome. Unfortunately, yet another earthquake caused serious damage to the Shah Cheragh shrine, and from there, several rehabilitations have taken place. Now, even though the Shah Cheragh Shrine endured tragic moments, it stands intact for hundreds of years, shining brightly like before.
Shah Cheragh Architecture
Because the historical Shah Cheragh Shrine has been renovated several times throughout various dynasties, it bears the delicate history of architectural work in Iran. The complex carvings on the dome, halls, windows, and walls cannot be neglected. The elegant calligraphy on the walls of the Shah Cheragh Shrine is truly inspirational and eye-catching. When walking inside Shah Cheragh, you would purely sense the sacred atmosphere of this magnificent landmark.
Shah Cheragh Mosque in Shiraz was constructed in the style of Azari Architecture. After the establishment of Islam in Persia, this type of Islamic architecture became very dominant in Iran and was ordinarily used in building shrines and mosques.
The Shah Neshin
The Shah Cheragh Holy Shrine holds four different alcoves, or Shah Neshin, and a mosque on the west side of the shrine. The entire structure is in a rectangular formation with a large pool in the center of the vast courtyard. Around the courtyard are the shrine, mosque, and other facilities. There are two entrances leading to the Shah Cheragh Shrine located in the northern and southern parts of the Holy Shrine. On the west side of the monument, you will find the Shrine of Ahmed bin Musa, while on the northeast, you can visit the Shrine of Seyyed Mir Muhammed, his brother.
Once you stroll inside the courtyard of Shah Cheragh, you will notice the two-story rooms surrounding the large space in the center of the whole structure. On the exterior part of these rooms, you will notice the Kashi Kari, which is an intricate tilework that is still very popular in Persian architecture.
The Majestic Halls
Inside the halls made for the congregation of the Muslims are full of with Āina-kāri, which is a form of ornamentation with finely cut mirrors in a geometric form. The halls of the mosque are so brightly lit by the countless mirrors that they surely will put you in complete awe. That is why Shah Cheragh is also called Shah Cheragh Mirror Mosque.
The roof and ceilings of these halls, also called Shabestan, are carpeted with silver, gold, tiles, and mirrors in various geometrical shapes and forms. You will also find Muqarnas, a type of highly complex embellishment found in the entrances or under the domes of mosques. Muqarnas is also called the honeycomb vaulting because the geometry is so sophisticated and accurate that with a glance it might look like a massive bee hive.
Shah Cheragh Facilities
In Shah Cheragh you can visit many other places that are a part of Chah Cheragh Facilities, such as a museum, library, and Iwan, or Terrace.
Inside the Shah Cheragh shrine is a museum dedicated to the ancient history of the shrine and artifacts found during the rehabilitations. It is a double-story building with an area of 1,700 square meters in the southern part of the holy shrine. More than eight thousand artifacts are displayed in the museum are they are believed to be of great value and honor. In fact, this museum is one of the largest museums in the south of Iran.
Another efficient facility made for visitors is the grand library in the heart of the Shah Cheragh Shrine. The library has an area of 2,500 square meters and holds thousands of books with diverse contents. To be exact, the shelves in the grand library of Shah Cheragh contain a hundred thousand books in total. Some of the books are written by authors who donated their work to the Shah Cheragh Shrine in Shiraz.
The Iwan or Terrace
The large terrace of Shah Cheragh is located in the west of the shrine, and its construction dates back to the Qajar dynasty. The terrace is 3,830 meters long and 5 meters wide and contains ten pillars that are 10.5 meters tall. On the two ends of the terrace are twelve double-story large rooms called Hijrah with walls covered in elaborate stucco. The two corridors from the main entrance of the shrine lead to the terrace and the Shah Cheragh Haram.
Shah Cheragh Shiraz Address
To get through Shah Cheragh, you first will have to find the Ahmadi Square, 9 Dey Road, or the 9 Dey Bus station, then adjacent to the historical house of Manteghi Nejad, you will approach the renowned Shah Cheragh Shrine of Shiraz.
If you are a fan of Islamic architecture or archeological sites belonging to the ancient past in Persia, the Shah Cheragh Shrine in Shiraz is the best recommendation. The luminous halls and ceilings with the remarkable calligraphy work in the shrine are absolutely worth seeing. The extraordinary mosque and the vast courtyard filled with birds and trees are no exception. So, if you plan on visiting the cultured city of Shiraz, don’t miss the majestic grandeur of Shah Cheragh Shrine.
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