The mosque is the focal point of Islamic society and, along with tombs, palaces and forts, is the main physical representation of Islam’s influence across different regions over the centuries. These architectural forms facilitated the functions of life in Islamic cultures and their stylistic elements take inspiration from a number of other cultures, differing significantly depending on the location and time period from which each building originates. Islamic architecture in the West often built upon pre-existing Byzantine structures, such as the Hagia Sophia in Istanbul, which influenced the Ottoman-style mosques with their large central domes. Eastern Islamic architecture is often more similar to the Persian architectural styles of the Sassanids, whilst the Umayyad Caliphate combined western and eastern influences, a style that is best represented in Iberian mosques. The permeating feature across Islamic architecture is decorative geometric patterns, along with arabesque and calligraphic forms, which are likely prevalent as a result of Islam’s proscription against images of living beings.
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