The Friday Mosque as it stands now is the result of
continual construction, reconstruction, additions
and renovations on the site from around 771 to the
end of the twentieth century. Archaeological
excavation has determined an Abbasid hypostyle
mosque in place by the 10th century. Buyid
construction lined a façade around the courtyard and
added two minarets that are the earliest example of
the double minaret on record.
Construction under the Seljuqs included the addition
of two brick domed chambers, for which the mosque is
renowned. The south dome was built to house the
mihrab in 1086-87 by Nizam al-Mulk, the famous
vizier of Malik Shah, and was larger than any dome
known at its time. The north dome was constructed a
year later by Nizam al-Mulk's rival Taj al-Mulk. The
function of this domed chamber is uncertain.
Although it was situated along the north-south axis,
it was located outside the boundaries of the mosque.
The dome was certainly built as a direct riposte to
the earlier south dome, and successfully so,
claiming its place as a masterpiece in Persian
architecture for its structural clarity and
geometric balance. Iwans were also added in stages
under the Seljuqs, giving the mosque its current
four-iwan form, a type which subsequently became
prevalent in Iran and the rest of the Islamic world.
Responding to functional needs of the space,
political ambition, religious developments, and
changes in taste, further additions and
modifications took place incorporating elements from
the Mongols, Muzzafarids, Timurids and Safavids. Of
note is the elaborately carved stucco mihrab
commissioned in 1310 by Mongol ruler Oljaytu,
located in a side prayer hall built within the
western arcade. Safavid intervention was largely
decorative, with the addition of muqarnas, glazed
tilework, and minarets flanking the south iwan.
The cupolas and piers that form the hypostyle area
between the iwans are undated and varied in style,
endlessly modified with repairs, reconstructions and