Since it opened its doors, Abu Dhabi’s spectacular Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque has stolen the hearts of international visitors and locals alike. So, it won’t be surprising for many to find out the emirates’ largest mosque, which took 11 years to construct, was ranked the world’s third greatest attraction amongst TripAdvisor’s top 10 global landmarks.
The list was announced as part of the international travel giant’s Travellers Choice Awards. And while Cambodia’s Angor Wat and the Plaza de España in Spain took in first and second place, respectively, the mosque that bears the name of the first ruler of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, beat other marvels like the Vatican’s St. Peter's Basilica in Italy, the Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba in Spain and India’s Taj Mahal.
Award winners were determined using an algorithm that considered the quantity and quality of reviews and ratings from TripAdvisor travellers, collected over 12 months.
This year’s awards recognised 759 landmarks across 68 countries and eight regions across the globe. According to TripAdvisor, the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque is "by far the youngest world landmark" on the top ten list. The global travel site and booking online platform also explained the mosque "holds its own against more established icons."
About the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque
The Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque attracts loads of visitors all year round, and in Ramadan 2019, received over 1.4 million worshippers. Perhaps one of the main reasons the mosque, which is one of the eight biggest in the world, is so popular is that it is a symbol of tolerance and respect.
The Visit Abu Dhabi website explains: “The vision of the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founder of the UAE, was to incorporate architectural styles from different Muslim civilizations and celebrate cultural diversity by creating a haven that is truly diverse and inspirational in its foundation.”
For the architectural wonder, which was designed to hold a capacity of 40,000 worshippers, the architects from Britain, Italy and the Emirates took inspiration from Turkey, Morocco, Pakistan and Egypt among other Islamic countries.
The spectacular marble onion-top domes featuring gold-glass detail on top are one of the mosque’s hallmarks. There are 82 overall, varying in size, and visitors can admire the calligraphy encircling the hollows, etched with verses from the Quran and painted with gold leaves in An-Naskh lettering.
The reflective pools in the courtyard, beams of natural light, intricate stonework, white Macedonian marble with floral designs ornamented with semi-precious stones and seven gorgeous crystal chandeliers also help to make the Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque a jaw-dropping beauty.
Standing out with 22 light towers, the mosque even has lighting that represents the phases of the moon. However, it’s the iconic prayer hall that’s the highlight for many visitors. The prayer hall houses a meticulously handmade 12-ton chandelier, which is the world’s biggest. It is also where you will find the world’s largest hand-knotted carpet, made by approximately 1,200 dedicated artisans.
TripAdvisor’s Top 10 Landmarks
- Angkor Wat, Siem Reap, Cambodia
- Plaza de España, Seville, Spain
- Sheikh Zayed Grand Mosque, Abu Dhabi, UAE
- St. Peter's Basilica, Vatican City, Italy
- Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba, Cordoba, Spain
- Taj Mahal, Agra, India
- Duomo di Milano, Milan, Italy
- Alcatraz Island, San Francisco, California
- Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, California
- Hungarian Parliament Building, Budapest, Hungary