Colonnades and Arcades

Colonnade, Djingareyber Mosque, Timbuktu, Mali

Colonnade. Djingareyber Mosque, Timbuktu

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Arcade in Mosque, Kotaka, Mali

Arcade. Kotaka Great Mosque

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The Interior Space

Given their materials and size, most mud-brick mosques require numerous columns or piers to support the weight of the prayer hall's roof. These rooms of mud brick columns, or hypostyle halls, have allowed for the construction of large interior space since ancient times. In many mosques, such as Timbuktu's Djinareyber Mosque to the left, interior supports are composed of rows of mud-brick piers, or colonnades, whose great size consumes much of the mosque's interior space.

The interiors of some mosques are made up of rows of arched openings supported by piers or columns, called arcades, that allow the architects to lift the prayer hall roof to greater heights. The interior of Kotaka's Great Mosque (lower left) is made up of both colonnades and arcades with superimposed colonnades, which together create a very large interior space. The narrow columns, which may be made of materials other than mud brick, also allow more room for worshippers to spread their carpets on the floor. Ornate window covers allow natural light to illuminate the hall.

Mosque Design Elements
Colonnades and Arcades