Italy: the Great Mosque of Rome
(no, that's not a typo)

What?
The one and only mosque in Rome, which is also the largest mosque of Europe. It doesn’t sound very Minor, does it?

Why visit?
Located at the epicenter of Catholicism, a mosque in Rome is by definition a Minor Sight.

And it is especially worth a visit for its modernist architecture and for the interiors decorated with stunning mosaics.  

Where?
In Viale della Moschea 85, at the base of the posh Parioli neighbourhood. Map

THE GREAT MOSQUE of Rome (It: Grande Moschea di Roma) is set in a green area of cypresses and palms, within the city but somehow isolated, neighbouring the many sports complexes of Acqua Acetosa. 

It was designed by the Iraqi architect Sami Mousawi –representing Islamic tradition- and the Italian architect Paolo Portoghesi –who professes his love for Borromini and baroque architecture.
The construction of the Great Mosque took very long, from 1984 to 1995; so long that Sami Mousawi left halfway through the project (apparently over a discussion about a Pantheon-style circular hole at the centre of the dome.)

The architects even had to redraw the original project because they initially went for a minaret taller than the dome of St Peter's, which turned out to be unacceptable; eventually they built a minaret one meter shorter. (Rome’s minaret is also the only one in the world which is not propagating the Muezzin’s call through its speakers. It doesn’t have any speakers at all).
The architecture of the Great Mosque is extremely fascinating, made of repeating designs and amazing geometric patterns (among which star-shaped motifs reminiscent of the ones in the Old Mosque of Cordoba).  
An important role is played by the light, which creates a spiritual atmosphere and plays several tricks as well.

The ubiquitous palm-shaped white columns made of bold reinforced concrete ascend towards the dome and eventually split into a geometric dance on the ceiling; they represent the connection between Allah and the single devotee.
The interiors are decorated with beautiful mosaics made by Casablanca craftsmen, their geometric patterns ranging from cobalt blue to sea green. 
Apart from the Great Mosque, the Islamic Cultural Centre of Italy also includes also an Islamic Studies Centre and a library where many ancient and miniature-painted Koran books are kept. 

Getting there:
The Mosque is right behind the regional train stop “Campi Sportivi” (you can take this regional train just outside the very central Piazza del Popolo). 

Please note that the Mosque is open for visits on Wednesday and Saturday mornings.




About the author 
Giulia Blocal is an aspiring travel blogger  who writes at www.blocal-travel.com. She writes mostly about unconventional destinations, abandoned places, street art, suburbs, urban landscapes and weird spots, and has written about the Great Mosque of Rome before. 



2 comments:

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