The Vakil Mosque

  • A group of Iranian tourists
  • the magneficent columns of the Vakil Mosque
  • My guide Shima
  • column details
  • a tea in a classic ancient caffe
  • inside Vakil mosque
  • Details of the mihrab at the Vakil Mosque

My guide Shima

The Vakil Mosque is one of the most significant mosque in Shiraz, Iran. The 48 monolithic pillars join one another on top through vaulted brickworks, and the pillar shafts are carved in a spiral way and decorated in form of acanthus leaves at their capitals. The marble stone for these columns was brought from Azerbaijan and Yazd. The entire construction is made in a way that it achieves a linear acoustic that spreads all around the mosque surface. A master piece of sound technology, architectural beauty and stunning decoration.

I started my visit at Vakil Mosque after I luckily met a local guide at the entrance of the compound. Shima is a professional, passionate and and certificated Iranian guide, and a Shiraz guide specialist: thanks to her deep insight, I could understand the magic history behind this great mosque. Should you need her services, you can contact Shima by email:

Architecture and Art

The Vakil Mosque occupies an area of 8,660 square meter, it is entered from the north through a recessed entrance, the upper vault of which is adorned with tiled moqarnas (a form of ornamented vaulting in Islamic architecture, the geometric subdivision of a cupola into a large number of miniature squinches, producing a sort of cellular structure, sometimes also called a honeycomb).

the magneficent columns of the Vakil Mosque

The portal also features lavish tile-work, cable-shaped stone friezes, and fine calligraphy. Its 8 meter wings wooden gate is a copy of the original door from the Zand age broken by a cannon ball during the Qajar Dynasty (second part of 1700 ac). A vestibule behind the entrance has two passages which lead into the courtyard. The lower parts of the porches and arcades are faced with marble slabs, carved in relief, with splendid floral motifs. The mihrab (a semicircular niche in the wall of a mosque that indicates the direction that Muslims should face when praying) is flanked by deep, tiled niches, carved at various elevations on either side.

column details

What attracted my interest most was the minbar (a pulpit in a mosque where the imam – prayer leader – stands to deliver sermons) on the right side. It is climbed by way of fourteen steps cut out of a single great block of marble. History book state that Karim Khan Zand (the founder of the Zand Dynasty and the Shah of Iran, ruling from 1751 to 1779) is reported to have joked that this minbar cost him more than if it had been made of pure gold. The lavish use of stone is an atypical feature for the Iranian mosque prior to the Zand period. Stones were used sparingly, and mainly for decorative purposes.

This mosque is an historical religious monument that is extremely special for the Iranian people. If you travel to Shiraz, don’t miss this beautiful mosque. It is not an exaggeration to state that when you enter the Vakil Mosque, its architecture and art push you to release yourself from the material world and to think about the greatness of your soul.

History of Vakil Mosque

inside Vakil mosque

Vakil Mosque in one of the most beautiful that Karim Khan Zand created in Shiraz. It is significant not only as a major religious building of the Zand period, but also as the only important building of its kind to be built in late 18th century. The mosque you can see today is the result of several stages of construction and restoration. It was  originally started late in Karim Khan’s reign during the high Victorian style developed under this monarch.

Details of the mihrab at the Vakil Mosque

The Vakil Mosque represents in plan and artistic style a perfect Zand edifice. All the  features distinguish the Mosque from the preceding and subsequent architectural styles. It is remarkable for its generous spatial area and for the elegant proportions of its architectural units. The decorative treatments of the Zand religious buildings are also less conventional and more secular in type than that of the earlier mosques, bunches of flowers and bright colors being largely employed in the pottery works.

The mosque area

The Vakil Mosque is, unsurprisingly, a popular tourist destination for foreign both and Iranian people. The area around offers much more for the visitors to enjoy. If you like visiting cathedrals and mosques for their wealth of history and unbelievable beauty that can await you at every turn, then the Vakil Mosque should be high on the list of things you intend to see. The area around this historic center have so much to discover. All around the mosque, an intricate group of small roads create one of the most original markets of Iran, the Vakil Bazar.

A group of Iranian tourists

The Vakil Bazar is a group of many small and traditional shop selling a huge collection of different crafts and hand made manufactures and excellent gastronomy. Shima my guide invited me to test a few of those speciality, including the typical Shirazy ice cream.


Overall, my visit to the Vakil Mosque was enriching at a cultural level, and enlightening at the same time. Vakil Mosque is a very popular destination in a very nice and famous area of Iran. Shiraz is a must-see also for the nearby archeological area of Persepoli  CLICK HERE to know more about Persepoli.

CLICK HERE To read about my trip to Iran.

For a 360 degrees visit inside the Vakil Mosque, check

Share This

About the author

Stefano was born in an Italian city north of Milano. Stefano has always been living a double life: the first following an ambitious career as Interior Designer, while the second loosing himself  between travel adventures and a wide range of disciplines like karate, Thai Boxing and football. In 2005 Stefano quit his stable job career and Italian life in order to backpack for the following 3 year around Europe, and in 2008 he took in a new challenge: backpacking around the world from Milano. Stefano loved South East Asia so much that, after a brief Australian experience, he decided to follow the call from of oriental culture and natural beauty, establishing himself in Thailand. Today Stefano works to create new ideas and start-ups, as well as writing articles for magazines, websites and travel blogs. He also continue his traveling as well as adding new experience to his already filled portfolio, which includes yoga, meditation, reiki, thai chi, climbing, diving and kayaking. He loves writing and photographing, and he will be traveling around Asia on behalf of Asian Itinerary.

View all articles by Stefano Gonella