From the ancient beauty of Wazir Khan in Lahore to the futuristic lines of Faisal in Islamabad, Pakistan has some of the world's most impressive mosques. Just ask the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge...
With its stunningly modern design, said to be inspired by Bedouin tents, Faisal Mosque has always been a mosque apart. Named after the Saudi King Faisal bin Abdulaziz, it dominates Islamabad's landscape from its elevated position at the foot of the Margalla Hills.
Designed by Turkish architect, Vedat Dalokay, the mosque is sleek and contemporary and, controversially, has no dome. The four 88m-high minarets soar skywards, the massive 5,000 sq m prayer hall can hold 100,000 worshippers and there is an architectural nod to Kaaba, the building found at the centre of the most important mosque in Mecca, the Great Mosque of Mecca.
Tucked away in the chaotic streets of Old Lahore, Wazir Khan mosque is regarded as one of the most beautiful mosques in the country.
You’ll spot its minarets and distinctive onion-shaped domes as soon as you pass through the historic Delhi Gate, but its true artistry is revealed once you get closer, with external and interior walls completely covered in mosaics, comprised of thousands of brightly-coloured tiles.
Built in 1634 during the reign of Mughal Emperor Shah Jahan, the Wazir Khan Mosque is home to some of the finest examples of mosaic tile work from the Mughal period.
Wandering through the complex, you’ll spot incredible calligraphy of verses from the Holy Qur'an and Persian poetry, floral designs and other geometric patterns in praise of the munificent of God. It is as much a work of art as a place of worship.
Built from pure white marble, the single-domed Tooba Mosque is a dazzling site in Karachi’s otherwise unremarkable Korangi district.
The locals call it Gol Masjid, the round mosque, and the fountains and water features that lead to the main hall are popular are a popular spot to gather when evening falls and temperatures drop.
The mosque was designed by Pakistani architect Dr. Babar Hamid Chauhan and built in 1969. The central prayer hall, within the distinctive dome, can hold up to 5,000 people.
Made from red bricks and covered in distinctive blue tiles, the 17th century Shah Jahan Mosque serves the provincial town of Thatta, 60 miles from Karachi, in the heart of the Sindh.
Built during the reign of Mughal King Shah Jahan, legend has it that the mosque was gifted to the people of the town for their hospitality during a royal visit.
The mosque is famous for its 93 domes, each decorated with a mosaic of radiating blue and white tiles. It is also known for a remarkable echo that means that the prayers in the front can be heard anywhere in the building.
The breathtaking Badshahi Mosque in Lahore is one of the most beautiful Islamic sites in Pakistan and a popular spot to visit for British royals. Diana, Princess of Wales visited in 1991 and, more recently, Prince William and Kate, the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, visited during their tour of Pakistan in 2019.
Built in 1673, it was the largest mosque in the world for over 300 years until the Faisal Mosque was completed in 1986. Its 26,000 sq m courtyard can host up to 95,000 worshippers.
Its minarets and domes are clad in dazzling white marble, a striking contrast to the red of the main building, but its real beauty lays in the details. The level of artistry in the arches, stucco tracery and intricate frescoes is astonishing.
Tucked away in the western part of Chowk Yadgar in Peshawar, the 17th-century Mahabat Khan mosque is famous for its stunning geometric designs. Unassuming from the outside, the interior is covered in beautiful tiles and intricate frescoes.
After you have perused the lavish interior, head to the ancient caravanserai to the east for the best views of the mosque’s impressive plaza and minarets.
A new addition to the Lahore skyline, the imposing Grand Jamia Mosque in Bahria Town in Lahore was only finished in 2014. Designed by Nayyar Ali Dada, it pays architectural homage to Pakistan’s other famous mosques, while providing spacious, modern facilities for worshippers. It is the third largest mosque in Pakistan and the 13th largest in the world.
The exterior of the mosque is covered in over four million tiles, handcrafted in Multan. The interior boasts custom-made carpets from Turkey and 50 chandeliers imported from Iran. One level of the mosque is dedicated to an Islamic heritage museum displaying rare Qur'anic collections, an Islamic library, and an Islamic art gallery.
Deep in the Punjab, 130km south of the city of Bahawalpur, the 40 squat bastions of Derawar Fort stand guard over the empty plains of the Cholistan Desert as they have done since medieval times.
It takes a day to reach them and you’ll need special permission to go inside, but you’ll be rewarded with one of the most extraordinary sights in Pakistan.
Perched atop a small hill, just to the east of Takht Bhai Bazar in Mardan, you’ll find one of the last surviving ancient Buddhist sites in Pakistan.
A monastic complex built in the early first century, it escaped the brunt of several Hun invasions, and remains an exceptionally well-preserved reminder of the importance of Buddhism in this region in the past.
Built and rebuilt many times over the centuries, it is said that walking through Lahore Fort is like walking through Pakistan’s past. Situated at the northern end of the walled city, it spreads over 20 hectares and contains over 21 notable monuments.
The oldest dates to the era of Emperor Akbar, the most recent were constructed under British rule. Declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1981, it is a treasure of Mughal, Indo-Islamic and Colonial architectural styles.
Unveiled in 2007, the petal-shaped Pakistan Monument is a striking addition to Islamabad skyline, Constructed to symbolise the unity of the Pakistani people, the site also includes a museum that features wax work recreations of the most important moments in Pakistani history.
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