Date: 18 April 2017
On the occasion of the anniversary of the construction day of Tehran’s Sepahsalar Mosque and School, Seyed Alireza Qahari, the head of the Society of celebrated figures of Iranian Architecture has written a note accompanying a photo of this complex.
From a purely architectural point of view, Sepahsalar Mosque and School in Tehran’s Baharestan Square is one of the last majestic Qajar buildings which is considered as the continuation of the Safavid Architecture.
During the Qajar era, as the result of the encounter of Iranian educated people with the European culture, not only the impact of the latter on all aspects of the Iranian society gradually manifested itself, but the Turkish Mosque architecture also became a source of inspiration.
Mirza Hossein Khan Sepah-Salar, Naser-aldin Shah’s Grand Vizier had lived in Istanbul as the Minster of Foreign Affairs for several years, but what we know is that the Iranian Architecture has always been the pioneer. Inspired by Istanbul’s Hagia Sophia Mosque, Esfahan’s Chahar-Baq School and Jameh Mosque, Sepahsalar School has been built in a way whose counterpart can only be found only in E(I)sfahan’s Seyed Mosque, Semnan’s Sultani Mosque and Kashan’s Aqa Bozorg Mosque. In all of these mosques, chambers (hojreh-s) and Eyvans (porticos) are in two floors. The main designer of Sepahsalar school, Mohammad Khan Momtahan-ol-doleh Shaqaqi had studied architecture abroad and is among the last contemporary traditionalist architects. His design was carried out by Haj Abol-Hassan from Qom and Jafar Khan Memarbashi from Kashan.
The construction of the complex began on April 8 1879 by Mirza Hassan Khan. However as he died two years later in Mash-had, his brother Yahya Khan Moshir-ol-doleh continued the construction work which took 5 years. In 1934, when the French architect, Maxime Siroux founded the College of Fine Arts، he also designed a library for the school where the first Academy of Persian Language and Literature led by Mohammad Ali Forouqi took shape.
In 1963, Hossein Lorzadeh introduced some changes to the mosque’s winter shabestan (part of a mosque designed for sleeping or nocturnal praying) and in 1996, the architect Saidi repaired its main dome.
The complex is made largely of bricks and decorated by the characteristic Iranian architectural features such as Moqarnas (stucco relief), tile-work, Yazdi-bandi (arch decoration), Kaseh-bandi (bowl-decoration) derived by the Safavid architecture, because tile-works are not found in Turkish mosques. The mosque’s courtyard has four flowerbeds and a large pool in the middle with the famous Mehran qanat crossing underneath it before. Sepahsalar is one of the largest mosques with four Eyvans and surely one of the last ones. Its majestic dome, modelled after Turkish mosques and its eight minarets are what make this complex so unique.