The Architecture of Middle East

Favorite Brands | Ecru

ecru.jpgI saw this Kuwait-based brand on Instagram and since then I am a huge fan of it! Their products are not only beautiful and functional, but quite different (in a good way) from what we have seen on the Middle East’s market. A perfect mix of modern and tradition.
Hand carved and color lacquered pineapple bowlBrass molded palm candle holder dipped in silver.Glass carafe with a silver tipped wooden stopper.Round lamp with Fish Scale shaped openings that illuminate the room in a special way.Marble star which can be used as a soap plate or a candle base.Gem LightEmbroidered mini Hand pins that can be pinned to your clothes, bag, or baby’s crib.Pink Pomegranate print on beige casement table cloth. (Skillfully hand block printed)

You can visit their official website – ecruonline
Check out their blog –
or follow them on Istagram – ecruonline

All photographs –


Favorite Architects | Houses by AGi Architects

Mop House in Kuwait | Photographs: Nelson Garrido
Star House in Kuwait | Photographs: Nelson GarridoRibbor House in Kuwait | Photographs: Nelson GarridoSecret House in Kuwait | Photographs: Nelson Garrido

Modern Cairo

Today I discovered an interesting online magazine It is an urban guide, based in Dubai focusing on design and travel across the Middle East and North Africa. The articles are quite interesting and informative, but what grabbed my attention the most were these street food restaurants in Cairo. I love the way they managed to mix modern and traditional elements.
(Oh… and I forgot to mention that the food looks good too!) 😉

Click here to view the full article about the first place.
Photographs: Timothy Kaldas
Click here to view the full article about the second place.
Photography: Courtesy of Cairo Kitchen

Diyarbakir, Turkey

A week ago I met a friend for a cup of tea. He told me about his trip to Diyarbakir and I found the city quite interesting. So, I “stole” his photographs and I made this post! Hope that you will enjoy it!

Diyarbakir is the second largest city in Turkey’s southeastern Anatolia region.images It’s famous for its watermelons, which are exported internationally. One of the largest events in the city is the annually held Watermelon Festival.The city is also famous for its copper, gold and silver products.Local tobaccoSpices in bazaar in Diyarbakir – part of them are coming from Iraq and Syria, other from Iran and Diyarbakir province.The Hasan Pasha Han, which highly impressed Western travelers was built in 1573.  Traditional Turkish coffee cups.The Syriac Orthodox Virgin Mary Church was first constructed as a pagan temple in the 1st century BCE. The current construction dates back to the 3rd century, has been restored many times, and is still in use as a place of worship today.The Great Mosque of Diyarbakir (Ulu Camii), built in 1091, is the oldest and one of the most significant mosques in Anatolia. The design influenced by the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus, used the locally found black basalt rock.Beautiful building details!In the Middle age the building was caravanserai (Turkish: kervansaray), a roadside inn where travelers could rest and recover from the day’s journey. At present it’s a wonderful hotel.My two favorite pictures!Hasankeyf is an ancient town and district located along the Tigris River in southeastern Turkey. It was declared a natural conservation area by Turkey in 1981. Much of the city and its archeological sites are at risk of being flooded with the completion of the Ilisu Dam.The ruins of the old Tigris bridge of Hasankeyf (built in 1116).The minaret of El Rizk Mosque (built in 1409) has remained intact.Mausoleum of Zeynel Bey, the son of Uzun Hassan ruler of the Akkoyunlu Dynasty which ruled over Hasankeyf in the 15th century. Last picture: Htkava

Thank you, Ruslan Trad!


Celebrating Eid Alfitr

Today is Eid Alfitr (19.08) , a Muslim holiday that marks the end of Ramadan, the Islamic holy month of fasting. “Eid” is an Arabic word meaning “holiday, festival or festivity”, while “Fitr” means “breaking the fast” (Arabic: عيد الفطر). On this day, Muslims gather early in the morning in outdoor locations or mosques to perform the Eid prayer. Later, they visit various family and friends, give gifts and gathering involve cooking and eating.
Women are commonly given special gifts by their loved ones and children are normally given new clothes. They also receive a “Eid-ey-yah from their adult relatives, a small sum of money that the children receive and is used to spend on all their activities throughout the Eid.
On this holiday, Muslims need to give as much charity as is possible. Before the day of Eid, Muslim family gives a determined amount as a donation to the poor, to ensure that the needy can have a holiday meal and participate in the celebration.
Eid Alfitr is an occasion of showing gratitude to God and remembering him, but it’s also an occasion of entertainment. It is celebrated for one, two or three days and in most Muslim countries, the entire 3-day period is a public holiday.

I would like to wish all Muslims Happy Eid!! Eid Mubarak!! (Arabic: عيد مبارك= Blessed Holiday)

Don’t worry, I didn’t forget that my blog is about architecture. 😉
The subject of today’s post is “The art of Islamic calligraphy and its role in Islamic architecture”.
This is a greeting cards, depicts the phrase “Eid Mubarak”.

Islamic calligraphy is the artistic practice of handwriting, or calligraphy in the lands sharing a common Islamic cultural heritage. From the Greek word for “beautiful writing” (κάλλος kallos “beauty” + γραφή graphẽ “writing”), calligraphy was considered the highest art form in Islam, for several reasons. For one, Muslims believe that Allah used the Arabic language to recite the Qur’an to Muhammad, and for that reason, it has a spiritual meaning for Muslims.  Also, they used it to represent God because they denied representing God with images.

Calligraphy adorn architecture, decorative arts, coins, jewellery, textiles, weapons, tools, paintings, and manuscripts. Brass bowl |1346-1347 A.D| Syria or EgyptLamp| 15th century | Syria or EgyptDish | 900-1000 | Iran or UzbekistanTile fragment | about 1359 | BukharaTile | about 1230 | IranDetail from wooden panel | 1150-1250 |Spain or Morocco Window | 1800-80 | Egypt

 There were many Muslim regions, of course, in which Arabic was not the native language. Persian was the major non-Arabic language spoken in the Islamic world, and in the 7th century it had its own script. As Islam spread through the areas where Persian and other languages were spoken, however, the Arabic script was adopted. The Persian language, also known as Farsi, added four letters to the Arabic script to represent sounds that existed in Persian, but not in Arabic. The Turks later also added another letter to render a distinctly Turkish sound, although modern Turkish no longer uses the Arabic script. The Arabic script is still used to write the Kazakh, Uzbek, and Tajik languages in Central Asia, as well as Urdu in present-day Pakistan. via A poem by the Iranian poet Omar KhayyamThe word “death” in Ottoman – ölüm

Born in the 7th century A.D., Islamic calligraphy continues to evolve into the present time.The Emirates logo is written in traditional Arabic calligraphyAljazeera logoCalligraphy by Hassan Massoudy 

Islamic Mosque calligraphy is calligraphy that can be found in and out of a mosque, typically in combination with Arabesque motifs. Arabesque is a form of Islamic art known for its repetitive geometric forms creating beautiful decorations. The subject of these writings can be derived from different sources in Islam. It can be derived from the written words of the Qur’an or from the oral traditions relating to the words and deeds of Islamic Prophet Muhammad.The Room of Sultan Muhammad Khodabandeh Uljeitu in the Jameh Mosque (Isfahan, Iran)Herat Musjid, Afganistan Zahir Mosque in Kedah, MalaysiaDivriği Ulucami and Şifahane (Divriği Great Mosque and Hospital) in Sivas Province, Turkey

Pictures: 1.muslimtoysanddolls 2.naveedafsar1983 3,4. islamic-arts 5,6,7,8,9. islamic-arts 10.P30Carl 11.illiyun 12.wikipedia 13.wikipedia 14,15,16.Hassan Massoudy 17,18,19.islamic-arts 20,21.© jeromestarkey 22.© Mark Schlegel 23.© anickue 24.© akupunyahal 25,26.© Mimarlık Müzesi

Beirut by SOMA

Yesterday I found this Architectural studio accidentally and I thought you may like it too. It turns out the studio is Lebanese, but they work on both local and international projects from two offices, one in Beirut and the other in New York. Here are some of their work.

Type: Residential building
Location: Mar Mikael, Beirut
3D renders: soma-architects

Boutique hotel
Type: Hospitality
3D renders: soma-architects

Type: Commercial
Location: Pierre Gemayel Ave
3D renders: soma-architects

Koukjian Jewelry 
Type: Retail
Photography: soma-architects and e-architect

Check out the other Lebanese studio that I like HERE.

Dar Al Hajar (Rock Palace)دار الحجر

I must admit that as a middle eastern girl I am passionate about Islamic architecture. Unfortunately, in university we don’t study much about it, we mostly focused on Europe. So I research some places and buildings on internet and here is what I found this week. Dar Al Hajar is a Yemeni architectural wonder and symbol of the country. It is located at the western suburbs of Sana’a (the capital of Yemen). It is perched atop a rock pinnacle at the famous Wadi Dhahr Valley. The historical five-storey palace was built by Yemen’s ruler Imam Mansour Ali Bin Mehdi Abbas in 1786 AD. The building was superbly shaped and constructed to accommodate the rocks. In the 1930s, the late Yemeni monarch Imam Yahya Hameed Al-Din added the upper story and annexes and used it as his summer residence. Now it’s museum and it’s open to the public. I recommend you to watch the clip below and also check out this 3D virtual tour of the palace.
Photograph: Matthew & Sanae (MaSa), Flickr * via  travelthemiddleeastPhotograph:  yeowatzup, Flickr * via travelthemiddleeast Photographs: ekskurziiPhotograph: Antti Salonen via Wikipedia
View from the roof Photographs: traveladventures
Photograph: Michail Vorobyev via 2leep

There is something else I want to share with you, that is not associated with the subject. We suffered an earthquake 5,8 Richter here in Sofia. It struck at 2:58 am Tuesday morning. It was very strong. I’ve never experienced anything like this. We fled our homes and gathered in the streets, where we spent the rest of the night. It was a real nightmare. Thank God, there are no casualties or significant damage, but a lot of broken glass, brick pieces, mortar to be cleaned.
Since that I can’t stop thinking about the important non material things in life and keep asking myself “Why do we have to experience a natural disaster so we can appreciate what we have?!”. I truly believe that this earthquake was  a reminder from God that “he created the world and can destroy the world.”
I just wanted to share with you my experience and my thoughts and I want to  remind you to be grateful for what you have. 😉

Isfahan | اصفهان‎

Have you ever heard about Isfahan, Iran? If I have to be honest with you, I don’t know much about Iran. I heard the name of this city few months ago and I was curious to know more about the architecture of this place, so I made a Google research. Here are few spaces that grabbed my attention. Hope they inspire you!
Isfahan is the capital of Isfahan Province in Iran, located about 340 km south of Tehran and is Iran’s third largest city after Tehran and Mashhad, produces fine carpets, textiles, steel, and handicrafts. It flourished from 1050 to 1722, when it became the capital of Persia for the second time in its history. It is famous for its Islamic architecture, with many beautiful boulevards, covered bridges, palaces, mosques, and minarets. This led to the Persian proverb “‘Esfahān nesf-e jahān ast” (Isfahan is half of the world).

  • Sheikh Lutf Allah Mosque is one of the architectural masterpieces of Safavid Iranian architecture. Construction of the mosque started in 1603 and was finished in 1618. It was built by the chief architect Shaykh Bahai. It is registered, along with the Naghsh-i Jahan Square, as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. One of the unique characteristics of the mosque is the peacock at the center of its dome. If you stand at the entrance gate of the inner hall and look at the center of the dome, a peacock, whose tail is the sunrays coming in from the hole in the ceiling, can be seen.

    Pictures: Wikipedia

  • Si-o-se Pol (which means 33 Bridge or the Bridge of 33 Arches) is one of the eleven bridges of Isfahan, Iran. It is highly ranked as being one of the most famous examples of Safavid bridge design.Picture:  Wikipedia

  • Chehel Sotoun is a pavilion in the middle of a park at the far end of a long pool,  built by Shah Abbas II to be used for his entertainment and receptions. The name, meaning “Forty Columns” in Persian, was inspired by the twenty slender wooden columns supporting the entrance pavilion, which, when reflected in the waters of the fountain, are said to appear to be forty.

Iran Esfahan Chehel Sotun _DSC7199
Iran Esfahan Chehel Sotun _DSC7296

Pictures: Flickr | youngrobv (Rob&Ale) 

  • Ālī Qāpū is a grand palace, located on the western side of the Naqsh-e Jahan Square opposite to Sheikh Lotf Allah mosque, and had been originally designed as a vast portal. Ālī Qāpū is rich in naturalistic wall paintings by Reza Abbassi. There are floral, animal, and bird motifs.

Pictures: 1,2,3,4.Wikipedia 5,6,7,8.torkzadeh 9.stylepark © Franziska Holzmann

  • Armenian Vank Cathedral (Vank means “cathedral” in the Armenian language) was one of the first churches to be established in the city’s Jolfa district by Armenian immigrants settled by Shah Abbas I after the Ottoman War of 1603-1605. The cathedral consists of a domed sanctuary, much like a Persian mosque, but with the significant addition of a semi-octagonal apse and raised chancel usually seen in western churches. The cathedral’s exteriors are in relatively modern brickwork and are exceptionally plain compared to its elaborately decorated interior.

Pictures: Wikipedia 

  • The Naghsh-e Jahan Square in Isfahan is one of the largest city squares in the world (some claim that it actually is the largest in the world) and an outstanding example of Iranian and Islamic architecture. It has been designated by UNESCO as a World Heritage Site. The city also has a wide variety of historic monuments.

Pictures: 1.londonsquares 2.trekearth 3.feedagg
Information: Wikipedia

What do you think? Would you like to visit Isfahan? I definitely want to visit this city one day!!! And one more thing … Do you know Maz Jobrani? He is an Iranian-born American comedian who is part of the “Axis of Evil” comedy group. He is hilarious!! Here is a short video, that will make you laugh 😉

If you like this post then you might also like one of these:

The Amazing Al-Balad | Saudi Arabia
The Ben Youssef  Madrasa | Morocco
Khan Asad Pasha Аl Azem | Syria

Burj Khalifa Park | Dubai, UAE

I just saw this park in landezine.
Location – Dubai, UAE / Landscape Architect: SWA Group / Year: 2011 / Photographer: Tom Fox / Photography: landezine

Istanbul Week | Istanbul in Pictures

Istanbul week is over! Here are the posts that I wrote this week:
AutobanChristopher HallKanyonThe Topkapı PalaceOrtaköy Mosque.
Hope you will enjoy the pictures as much as I did. They are taken by my friend Deniz Cemal on her last visit to Istanbul.