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Ancient Architecture in the Middle East

The Middle East has most certainly been at the forefront of Architecture and Engineering for thousands of years, going back further than the Ancient Egyptians, and have showed no signs of slowing even to this day, with brilliantly creative and inspiring projects popping up regularly. Not only that, but some architecture from the past few centuries (even stretching to the last 2 millennium) have slipped under the global radar slightly. Therefore, we thought it a prime chance to reflect a little.

Mecca and Medina

To start off, we’ll mention the incredible cities of Medina and Mecca, now while they most definitely are not unknown (in fact they are among the most famous cities in the world, and the 2 holiest cities of Islam), they do incorporate an interesting mix of ancient and modern day design.

The city of Mecca houses what is known as the Al-Haram Mosque, which is the largest mosque in the world. The mosque itself surrounds the Kaaba, which Muslims turn towards while offering daily prayer. Furthermore, expansion of the actual city is ongoing, including the construction of the Abraj Al Bait Towers close to the Masjid al-Haram. When completed in 2012, these towers were classified as the third tallest building(s) in the world. However, the construction process of the towers did involve the demolition of the Ajyad Fortress.

Medina, previously known as the Al-Madīnah al-Munawwarah (“The Luminous City”), is located in western Saudi Arabia in the Hejaz region, approximately 100 miles (160 km) inland from the Red Sea and around 275 miles from Mecca by road. The city of Medina had changed hands several times in the past 1500 years, from the Abbasid, Umayyad and Mamluk periods, up until the periods of the Ottoman Empire and Saudi rule, which saw an immense surge in architectural projects. The Ottoman architecture was based largely on works such as the Hagia Sophia museum, the Topkapi palace, and the blue mosque, all located in Istanbul. They seem to have been well-versed in constructing colossal open spaces, with ostensibly weightless domes.

Agha Bozorg mosque

A more understated and relatively recent construct is the Agha Bozorg mosque in Iran. Originally built in the 18th Century, this mosque is a classic representation of a combination of Islamic and Middle Eastern Architecture, from the instantly recognisable ogee arches, to the open and intricate multi-storey complexes that make up the site. Furthermore, the extensive use of brickwork being glazed with convoluted blue design work to emulate Lapis Lazuli, a form of semi-precious stone. Another classic feature of many mosques, being exhibited on the Agha Bozorg is the golden domes and minaret towers. Due to the climate of the region, it was ideal to have large, cool spaces with good ventilation.

Ancient city of Petra

Petra, a personal favourite, is an incredible archaeological city based in the south of Jordan. This city has been built and carved into the mountain ranges of and around the Jabal Al-Madbah. The Nabataean Architecture of Petra is believed to date back as far as the 4th Century and was stationed close a large number of trade routes for the convenience of the Nomadic Arabs that occupied Petra at the time. The Nabataeans were renowned for their structures being carved into solid rock as well as their efficient water collecting and conduit systems. The rock carving themselves were brilliant at preserving the mountain ranges natural landscape, as well as providing its own source of natural ventilation and beauty.

It is highly unlikely that there will be any decline in progress in the Middle East in regard to Architecture, which means there could be ample opportunity for you to get on board. Have a look here or give us a call on 0203 008 5212 to find out if we have any roles that could suit you!