Mosques and Palaces of Islamic Architecture

Mosques and Palaces of Islamic Architecture
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 4 to 6
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   6.71

     challenging words:    Ahhhhhhh, Akbar, bulbous, childbirth, dynasty, horseman, mihrab, minaret, niche, redecorated, refurnished, shrine, snow-covered, towers, tomb, beloved
     content words:    Dark Ages, Prophet Muhammad, In Islam, Saudi Arabian, Great Mosque, Shah Jahan, Taj Mahal, Queen Mumtaz

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Mosques and Palaces of Islamic Architecture
By Colleen Messina

1     Imagine that you are lost in a hot desert. Your throat is parched, and your nose is sunburned. Even your camel is cranky. Then, you see an oasis ahead. It has green palms and a long, cool pool. Ahhhhh....
2     Islamic architecture tried to inspire the same refreshing feeling of finding an oasis in the desert. This style of architecture flourished during the Dark Ages, especially in Andaluz, Spain. Islamic architects built structures surrounded by gardens. These buildings even had running water long before any European households had plumbing. Water was such an important element in their life that Islamic architects used it when they designed their mosques and palaces.
3     The first major Islamic building was called Dome of the Rock, which was the place where Muslims believe that their Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven. Dome of the Rock was a mosque built in Jerusalem from 688 A.D. to 692 A.D. It was built as a shrine for pilgrims.
4     This building had many typical features of Islamic architecture. It had an onion dome. Its walls were elaborately decorated. Long ago, the walls of Dome of Rock were covered in dazzling marble and mosaics. In the 16th century, architects redecorated it with geometric marble tiles. In Islam, pictures of people were not allowed, so the building is covered with geometric patterns and calligraphy. Muslims believe that God revealed himself in the book called the Koran. Words are sacred, so for a Muslim, calligraphy is also sacred.
5     The best feature of the Dome of Rock is its glittering, golden dome. This kind of dome might be the only architectural feature named after a vegetable. It is called an onion dome because of its bulbous bottom and pointy top. This particular dome has had many kinds of "skins" on it. At first, this dome was covered with brass. Then, builders refurnished it with lead sheathing in 1448. In the 1960s, it was covered with aluminum. By 1993, the Saudi Arabian government donated gold foil to give it a gleaming golden skin. To pilgrims long ago and today, this building does look like a beautiful oasis in a dry desert.

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