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Beat the Boredom

Learn the different tessellations and motifs of Islamic architecture from around the world.

What is a mosque?

A mosque is a place of worship for Muslims.

Historically, mosques have been the nucleus of prayer, celebration, education and intellectual life across the Islamic world.

While there’s no specific vocabulary for mosque architecture, many mosques share common features which you’ll learn more about below. In terms of design, every mosque is built in response to its distinct social and cultural contexts, making them unique.

For instance, the Great Mosque of Xi’an, China, channels the local architecture from the Ming Dynasty (1368 – 1644 CE).

Meanwhile, the Great Mosque of Djenne in Mali was made for the country’s scorching desert climate. This structure was built with thick, sun-baked mud bricks to control the temperature indoors.

Despite their variations in size, material and style, the special place mosques hold in Muslim communities around the world remains universal.

What are some other differences and similarities you can see between these two mosques?


The Great Mosque of Xi’an built 742 CE in Xi’an, China.

Great Mosque of Djenne built in the 13th century in Djenne, Mali.

Key Features

Exterior Features


Many mosques have a dome, or multiple domes. It symbolises the vault of heaven. Their interiors are beautifully decorated and culturally distinct; in Turkish, Pakistani and Persian cultures, they feature floral designs. In Morocco and Saudi Arabia, domes are embellished with geometric patterns.


A minaret is is a tall, slender tower which can be found attached to, or next to a mosque. This is where the call to prayer is issued five times a day, letting Muslims know it’s time to perform ablution and prepare for prayer. Minarets often have a little balcony so the call to prayer can be heard loud and clear. You can experience standing inside a minaret in our Islamic Architecture Gallery.

Interior Features


A mihrab is a shallow recess in the wall of a mosque. The mihrab orientates Muslims towards the qibla (the Kaaba in Mecca), which is the direction Muslims face during prayer. Because of its significance, the mihrab is often the most ornate part of a mosque.


The minbar is a stand or pulpit in the mosque where the imam (prayer leader) stands to deliver a sermon, especially for congregational prayers on Fridays. The minbar is usually on the right side of the mihrab. There are often a few steps leading up to the minbar. 

In this module, you will be craft your own mosque in your unique architectural style. What will it look like? What colour will it be? Will it have geometric or floral patterns? It’s all up to you! Why not try incorporating Australian culture, such as using red to represent our sunburnt outback? Scroll down to get started.

Building your mosque

To build your own mosque, you will need to download and print the worksheets below. You will also need:

– A cardboard box approximately 30cm (W) x 15 (H) x 30cm (D) or any box you have at home

– Scissors

– Glue

– Sticky tape

– Paint, texta, pencils or other materials to colour your mosque

– Paper

Make sure to have your parent/guardian assist you when using scissors!

After completing your mosque, make sure to send us a photo and we will share your beautiful work on our social media pages.


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