Mosque of Rome
The Mosque of Rome is located in the Acqua Acetosa area of Monti Parioli in the northern part of the city of Rome. Inaugurated in June 1995 it is the largest Mosque in Italy. It has been set in a park like area and is separated from other buildings. Apart from being a place of worship, it also acts as the Islamic Cultural Centre for the city, supporting the growing number of Muslims that now live in Rome.
The building was designed by Paolo Portoghesi, Vittorio gigliotti and Sami Mousawi and is divided into two main sections, first is the prayer hall, which has been raised above ground level so that ablution facilities could be constructed underneath, and the second, which is reminiscent of a “H” shape, and houses the remaining functions of the complex. The mosque was founded by the exiled Prince of Afghanistan Mohammad Hasan and his wife Princess Razia Begum, and financially backed of King Faisal of Saudi Arabia.
The land for the project was donated by the City Council of Rome in 1974 but it was to be ten years before the first stone was laid. There was some opposition to the building of a mosque but much of this dissipated when Pope John Paul II gave his blessing for the project. One issue that had to be agreed was the height of the minaret and its effect on the Rome skyline. In the end the issue was resolved by shortening slightly the height of the minaret to be below that of the dome of St Peter’s by approximately one metre.
The main prayer area can accommodate up to 2,500 worshipers, above this are galleries that is reserved for female worshipers. The main prayer hall it topped by a large central dome over 20 metres in diameter this is surrounded by 16 smaller domes. The complex also includes an educational area with classroom and a library, a conference centre with a large auditorium, and an area where exhibitions are held.
If you wish to visit the mosque to appreciate its architectural design then it is recommended that you visit on a Wednesday or a Saturday between 9:30 and 11:00 as the mosque will be free of those wishing to worship. Appropriate clothing should be worn, shorts are not acceptable and ladies should have their arms and head covered, so bring a headscarf with you. If you speak Italian, group tours are sometimes available, but you will be free to explore many of the areas on your own.