Artwork : She’s a Doer, She’s a Thinker

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Aquarelle artwork : She’s a doer, She’s a Thinker ( 26 x 36 cm )

 

Hello Guys!  I hope all is well with all of you. I’ve been on a sort of a Blogging break, and I haven’t written a post in a while, but it’s good to be back. Finally I squeezed some time to sit down and write something.

How time flies, quickly and with all the hustle and bustle, days go unnoticed. Couldn’t believe that July passed so quickly, and now we are enjoying the last few weeks of summer here in Germany.

You must know that when its silent, in real life, it’s not always the case.There’s so many things going on over here, and I couldn’t barely have time to sit down and finish a post. I have tons of unfinished drafts. Anyway, here I wanna share another painting I’ve made a couple of weeks ago. Thought I share it here because it’s another personal favorite. Remember what I’ve done with the inspiration from Sicilian Carretto? Now, this is another piece which I worked with lots of details, and another addition to my “Faces in the Crowd”series.

“She’s a dreamer…

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a doer, a thinker.

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She sees possibility everywhere.”

I used a lot of neutral colors, earth tones, and strong burnt sienna, aquamarine blue and paynes grey. When painting, my mind brings me to some nostalgic memories while drawing and this is no exception. My mind travels back to when I thought I can’t even make a single artwork, like every brush stroke is a struggle to create something original, a part of me that cannot see the possibility of it. But then I did not stop, I kept going on and I am glad I did not give up on my self.

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She’s a Doer, She’s a Thinker ( Justbluedutchart)

Just like anybody else, I strived to be a Thinker, and a Doer.

Painting technical details : This painting is done in fine-grade Artist’s paper (Arches) ,26 X 36 cm ( 10 x 14 inch ) which I really love and highly recommended. It is my first choice for more wet washes and intricate water-color drawings. I love using Van Gogh paints and watercolors and for details, my Da Vinci brushes never failed me.

Tell me your opinion about this painting, Do you like it?

If you’d like to see more of my artwork, please check out my Instagram page HERE, and my Facebook page HERE.

A walk into the Old town

One of the perks of being an Expat is living like a tourist everyday, or on a tour without a tour guide.Sightseeing is absolutely free, unlimited and you’ve got full access to discover the less-touristic areas which makes a place special.You can explore the neighborhood and outskirts like a curious tourist and be amazed of the hidden gems around you, without the rush.Of course there would come a time that you’ll get used to seeing the buildings and structures around you,and suddenly it all becomes a normal sight. You won’t think of it as worthy of a second look, but then, it is because you have discovered something else. Something even more grand, something worth of admiration.

And the best way to do this, is by foot- walking, at your own pace.

 

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The Old Town (Altes Rathaus )  of Ingolstadt : neo-Renaissance  style by Gabriel von Seidl in 1882 which serves as the seat of the Lord Mayor.Also known as the Four Houses in One simply because 4 old houses were joined together.

For the past months that I am doing lots of walking, (both figuratively & literally) into my new town, I have found so many interesting history and tales that is way beyond the written reviews in Trip advisor or any tourist site in the net about this place. It is not as big as Munich or Berlin, but it has its own identity, and rich cultural heritage. No wonder there is so much mention in this place. In this little old town of Ingolstadt, that certain” Bavarian ” spirit is in the air, everywhere. From the locals who walk the streets  in their traditional Lederhosen and Dirndls, up to the details engraved in their beautifully restored gabled houses, picturesque Architectural ensembles in different periods and up to their imposing gateways.

One particular Bavarian character of this city  that I noticed ever since I step on this place is their impressive fortifications, which, I can say that has become the Old’s town’s charm. The “Schanz”( a series of fortifications) has a reason why it has been built and preserved up to this day.  Indeed, Ingolstadt is a Medieval city of towers and gateways.

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Details of the Altes Rathaus

The church Liebfrauenmünster or also called the Minster to our Dear and Beautiful Lady  is definitely a must-see. I love its exterior and even more the details found inside. When I spent a day on top of the Pfeifturm, the town’s watch tower, which stands beside the city’s oldest parish church, of St. Moritz, the prominent roof of the cathedral stands out.It is one of the largest late-Gothic church of this kind in the whole region of Bavaria, even in Southern Germany.According to records, about 7,000 tree trunks were used in its construction.

 

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The Liebfrauenmünster 

 

Do you like the Audi car?

I’m telling you, Ingolstadt is a city more than just Audi. When you walk down the street, you can see that the locals really loved their cars, their sleek  Audi cars as they loved their Bavarian beer. Of course Audi is a prominent landmark in this town, where almost everybody drives in style. With 566,646 cars built in 2015, the Ingolstadt parent plant is the Audi Group’s largest production facility and Europe’s second-largest car factory. Globally networked, Audi Ingolstadt is the company’s flagship plant in terms of its technological prowess. This is where the Audi A3, Audi A4, Audi A5, Audi Q2 and Audi Q5 car lines are built. One of the biggest magnet for this city is the Audi Forum, which attracts more than 400,000 visitors each year.

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Stone and Bronze architectural detail

Another distinctive detail I saw in this town is the Bronze and Stone façade. From the memorial plaques in the Franziskanerkirche, valuable and unusually well-preserved memorial plaques adorn the walls,the pillars, and the side chapels. This old town is home of the impressive Asam’s Church of Maria de Victoria. This hidden church boasts of the phenomenal ceiling fresco by Cosmas Damian Asam , the most famous Bavarian Baroque artist. His phenomenal creativity  is shown in the largest flat ceiling fresco in the world at 42 m X 16m which can be admired by walking round it. I could stare at this ceiling for hours. When I walk, the image seems to move, simply amazing.Now I know what is perspective painting means. If you want to know it, you’ve got to see the ceiling fresco of Asam’s church of Maria de Victoria or the Asam’s church in  Munich which is also work of the Asam Brothers.

 

Another treasure found in this church is the  Lepanto Montrance– a filigree work of art, set in gold and silver, which represents the Christian’s victory over the Turks in the sea battle in Lepanto. It is a unique battle portrayal on the most valuable monstrance in the world.

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Then there’s the impressive Neues Schloss, (New Castle) a fortress type castle which stands in the middle of the city centre. It is built by Duke Ludwig the Bearded in the first half of  15th century. I love the picturesque view of this castle when I am on top of the bridge above the Danube river. Inside this castle is the magnificent vaulted, elegant interior that accommodates the Bavarian Army museum where it displays the historical weapons, armaments and tin soldiers.Outside this castle are the decorated 17 richly decorated cannons,the Scherer and the Schererin which guards the Neues Schloss. It weights more than 9 tons each.  Right in the castle courtyard  you can also view the Baroque Clocktower. This location is a major touristic area along Paradeplatz  square where the fountain and statue of Ludwig the Bavarian can be found.

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The face of the Cannon in the courtyard of Neues Schloss 

 

 

 

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Beautiful gable Borgeuois town houses

 

My walks have also took me to the outside of the medieval town walls as far as the Taschenturm tower, which used to be one of the minor gates in the Town Wall. The city’s most famous landmark-  The Kreuztor, is the most beautiful of all the preserved gateways that leads from the west into the old town. Four small corner towers and sparingly used limestone decorations embellish this red brick gateway tower from the late 14th century. It’s name came from the leper house with its chapel “to St. Cross” that used to be here outside the town.

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The Taschenturm Tower
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Narrow fronts,high gables of the Bourgeois town houses located in the city center

As I continue to explore the city, I admired the beautiful architecture of the narrow gable houses. They are colorful, unique and has a distinctive feature that really makes this city a worth while to see. If you’ve seen the gable architecture where Amsterdam is famous for, then you know what I mean. It certainly gives an identity to the city. The houses of the old town, in which councilors,guild masters and professors once lived, and which have been witness to a great deal back in the old days, are still full of life up to this day. I wanted to photograph each one of them because every single house is unique.

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Beautiful architecture in the old town of Ingolstadt

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It is very obvious that Ingolstadt is a city with strong fortifications. These Schanz were built by Leo von Klenze have resisted many attacks over the centuries. That is why these fortifications are still so visible, intact and well maintained up to this time. At any given time, you can see the unique, open-air museum of German fortress architecture especially if you walk through the Rose Garden of  Klenzepark where you can see the Turm Triva, which is the home of the Bavarian Police Museum. It is right inside of the lush green oasis with the view of the River Danube.

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The Turm Triva, the home to the Bavarian Police Museum

I was wondering what is Turm Triva when I first saw it. At first I thought it was an open air arena, but then I didn’t realize that it was part of the Bavarian fortifications. Then I’ve learned that the wall complexes, with the Baur and Triva round towers (Turm Baur & Turm Triva)  and the Reduit Tilly in the classical style build just at the bridge head of the Danube river were built for the refuge for the Royal family.

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A display of a Bavarian armor along the Anatomiestr.

For a fact that apart from all of these architectural sites, Ingolstadt also is very green. I can say that its one place for a lover of nature and for someone who wants to walk and enjoy the slow pace of life. Over the few months, I began to adapt to my new routine in this city. I knew now why the locals love outdoors and when its sunny and nice, everyone just hop on their bicycles roaming around the city like crazy. There’s always something to do and see.

When I did the walking tour to find all the Stolpersteine here in Ingolstadt, I appreciate this old city even more. For me, the best way to explore a small, traditional city like this is by foot.  Not only that I feel belongedto it as I walked around , smiled, greet, and nod to the old folks whom I found to be so active, and to the busy people in the streets, but also, I can easily feel the beat, or the vibe of the city. So all in all, it was always a great walk around the old town.

Have you’ve been to a walking tour?  How was your experience?

 

 

House of Mirrors | Details

One of the memories I look back from Kuwait is seeing the House of Mirrors.I find this so interesting because it was a pure labor of an amazing  Italian woman I have ever known in my life, Ms. Lydia Al-Qattan. Meeting her in person is really a great experience. Her  house is mainly full of detailed mirrors and glass pieces embedded in each parts of the house. So much talent, creativity and hard work shown in each mosaic.The patterns engraved in each room shows her surreal and almost unreal world of imagination & talent. My photos can’t even do justice on her work.

The house itself is one of the reasons why it pays to explore and find beautiful details like this in Kuwait.I am so glad I have seen it. Quite a rarity, an ideal example of genuine creativity out of termite crisis! Just look at the entrance door?

Isn’t this so inviting?

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The Door of the Hose of Mirror. Happy Man & Wife , symbolizing a beautiful union of marriage in one roof.

Now If you will be in this bathroom, would you immediately do your “business “and ignore how  beautiful these intricate patterns done?

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The bathroom in creative patterns of glass pieces.

Or how about washing your hands in this sink? I could stay in this bathroom for hours.

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Thousands of glass pieces embedded in reflecting colored patterns.

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Would you climb the stairs without first admiring this wall full of intricate writings and calligraphy?

 

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House of Mirrors in Kuwait

 

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Arabic calligraphy embedded in glass pieces.

An experience like this is so cool and unique. I can tell you that no one goes out from this house not  feeling inspired, bewildered and amazed.I was .

I would definitely recommend this to any of my friends who would visit Kuwait. For anyone who would spend their days living there or just relocated for a new job or assignment, then this is one cool places you must not miss!Here’s my practical tips for you to keep in mind in your visit.

  • Always make sure to go with a bunch of friends to ‘House of Mirrors’ since it’s an experience that should be shared.The more, the merrier!
  • The cost of the tour is KD3 on weekends and KD2 per person on weekdays.Better call first ahead of time so you can arrange an appointment for a special tour if necessary.
  • There is a gallery of Mrs. Lidia art on sale, and those who are impressed by her work are free to make a purchase, towards the end of the tour.She is playing a game and the one who wins gets one of her artworks! I got one for myself.
  • Be prepared to sit for tea and treats and spend a good bit of time with delicious homemade apple cake in her living room with a discussion about Kuwait history, Lidia’s history and the methods she used for her creation.the house itself smelled of cinnamon ginger tea. Amazingly homely!

Contact Details of House of Mirrors :

Address: House 17, Street 94, Block 9, Qadisiya, Kuwait
Telephone: +965 2251 8522 or check out HERE for any updates.

My awesome friends in AWARE Center also regularly conducting arranged tours in this place. You can check out their upcoming events and schedule Here.

You need to see this place for yourself for you to appreciate the whole thing.

I am posting this post is in response to WP photo challenge :Details

Echinops Ritro’s charm | Details

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Echinops Ritro platinum blue with its white-wooly stem

Have you ever met one of these babies?

Yes, I know what you are thinking, they are like small globe-thistles. When I saw them, it reminds me of the Kuwait Towers ,they are so alike in form & shade!From afar they are like the beautiful Chihuly  sculpture  displayed in 360 mall in Kuwait aside from of course they are not hand-blown and that sculpture is gigantic compared to these babies.

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Certified pollen -Butterflies attractive! Terrific showstopper!

These Echinops Ritro platinum blue caught my eyes while we are strolling yesterday in Klanzepark while celebrating “Die Welt is Bunt “ festival.I find them so unique and beautiful!Did you know that they are salt/seaside tolerant?

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Echinops Ritro-blue charming lollipops

 

This compact species has cobweb-like, woolly foliage. The unique spherical flower heads appear steely blue before maturing to a brighter blue. The late summer flowers add the charm of form and texture to a mixed border.Just look at her fine petals of mini- florets hanging in bunch of beautiful mirage! Who could ever wonder how many florets just one Echinops hold?

This is the close-up shot I could get with my iPhone and yet I love the way nature shows its pure details and intricate identity.

Did you know that Deers tend to avoid this flower?

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Echinops Ritro platinum blue in Klanzepark,Ingolstadt

I could enjoy gazing at this beauty for quite some time. They attract so many wasps, bees and other insects. I was trying to take a photo with my phone while the butterflies surrounds them but at the same time my hand is busy with my daughter trying to pinch these lollies.There’s something very pleasing about a big, fat bumble stuck on a pincushion of a flower.

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There’s so much loveliness if you just look around.

This is my humble take on my first try on today’s Photo challenge | Details using  iPhone only. Nature doesn’t need more filters, its details are enough.

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Little Peaked House in Bernkastel-Kues

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Little Peaked House , Anno 1416.

Why you need to see this amazing  Peaked House?

Because its a beautiful relic of History.

This unique peaked house, which was built on the smallest surface area possible ,becomes progressively wider the higher it goes.

When I saw this striking structure, I understand why people from all over the world stop to pay a visit to this picturesque building during their holidays in the Moselle region. The narrow-gabled little house with its sturdy ground floor dates back to 1416 and is one of the most photographed attractions along the river Moselle.

The Architecture is rich in detail. Has an impressive timber frame, which overhangs on three sides, was only exposed in 1914. The timberwork had been rendered over in the preceding years due to the risk of fire. The pretty oriel window and the half-timbered facades are hallmarks of the traditional architecture of the Moselle region.

The style of the pointed house symbolizes the transition from the Renaissance to the Baroque period in a vivid and tangible way.
At the same time, the building is also a typical example of an old Moselle-style winegrower’s house with its oak-beamed wine cellar supported by blocks of slate, the upper floors protruding outwards on both sides and the tall attic for storing winter food and accommodating pets.
The ground floor of the building now houses a wine tavern run by the Schmitz-Herges family winery which for generations produced fine Riesling wines and also Pinot Noir red wines since couple of years ago.

Unfortunately, my daughter did not see this beauty. She was fast asleep taking her midday nap in her stroller which I parked just beside this peaked house.But someday, I will tell her the story when she dozed off to la-la land in front of this beautiful building.

Have you’ve been to Bernkastel -Kues?  How was your experience?

Liberation Tower of Kuwait

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Kuwait Liberation Tower

Have you’ve been to the Liberation Tower in Kuwait?

I have reached the viewing deck of the Liberation Tower in Kuwait in one minute, 150 sweet floors!  in swift seconds.That elevator ride was fast and surprisingly cool. Since I love Architecture and modern buildings, I made sure that climbing this tower was one of my bucket list while I live in Kuwait and today it came true.Admiring beautiful building is my favorite past time whenever I’m into a new place or rather part of exploring the local culture.Through visiting key places like the Liberation Tower then  have come discover new details and concepts behind it.

I searched for ways to go here but I’ve learned that it is not open for public and could only be viewed through arranged appointment with the Ministry of Communications (MOC) management. Luckily, the always amazing Aware Center have arranged a tour to this iconic landmark and fortunately I was able to go.Finally!!

For those of you who lives in Kuwait, this tower can be seen if you go Sharq area and Kuwait city. It dominates the skyline standing at 372 meters from ground level. The Kuwait Liberation Tower is one of the elements of the “Liberation Communications Tower Complex ” situated in the heart of Kuwait City.

This is the tallest structure in the Middle East and is considered the Fifth (5th) highest freestanding telecommunication tower in the world (status as of yr 2000).Compared to other famous constructions in the world, it is 72 meters taller than the Eiffel Tower in Paris, and nine meters shorter than Empire State  Building in New York. The view I’ve had when we visited the Olympic Tower in Munich was totally different from here, mainly in Kuwait it’s full of high rise buildings and less green.

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Kuwait skyline viewed from the viewing deck of Liberation Tower

The construction was completed in 2 distinctive phases separated by an interruption of more than 3 years, followed the treacherous occupation of Saddam Hussein in Kuwait.It was meant to be called “The Kuwait Telecommunications Tower “.  After Saddam Hussein’s forces were expelled from Kuwait last February 27,1991,the Tower was completed in 1993, and renamed “Kuwait Liberation Tower “depicting  special significance of the country’s freedom from Iraq.

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Rotating Viewdeck

Here are some useful facts I have learned from visiting this Tower. I find  everything interesting and contributed to the uniqueness of this structure.

1.The total cost of this project amounts to 50 million Kuwaiti Dinars (Approx. $ 165 US Million Dollars )

2.Construction Time (Total ) – Sixty seven months.

4. The Revolving Restaurant was done by  Glantre,UK.

5. The Instrumentation were done by Interfels,Germany.

6. Secalt from Belgium did the External Cleaning Systems.

7. Gleitbau from Austria were responsible for the Slip-forms.

8. The Structural steel work & steel mast erection were done by Centrozap from Poland.

 

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Liberation Tower

The structure is made using ceramic tiles on the façade from base to first mezzanine level. Three natural light shades render a geometric design from the base. The tower, including the telecommunications complex, is divided into three working areas – a public communications center; revolving observatory level, and a restaurant at 150 meters; and the adjacent plant and equipment structure.

There are a total of 18 elevators, and are amongst the fastest in the world. As for the revolving mezzanine, there are six office floors spanning 12000 sq/m above the revolving observatory level, that rise up and out within a section covered in Anodised aluminium, so as to withstand the extreme temperatures.

The tower includes a revolving restaurant and an observation platform, apart from radio and telecommunications offices.

Given the historical and monumental significance of this tower, visitors usually do not miss the opportunity to visit this destination during their travel to Kuwait.Visiting this Tower is a wonderful experience. The host welcomed us warmly with brief introduction and tour of the whole building. I had great views of the skyline of Kuwait when I’m on top of the tower.It is nice to view Kuwait from above, so different from the ground.

If you’re interested to tour the Liberation Tower, check out Aware Center’s scheduled events to find out more details. They have lots of amazing cultural events about Arabic culture that you might find interesting. You can also check out their website Here.

I just hoped that Kuwait would invest more on maintaining this type of monumental buildings. The time I visited, I noticed that there were some renovations going on. I think this tower is worth the pride of Kuwaitis since it really stands for a symbol. Kuwait has no nature to boast but If they continue to build buildings with adept planning, then this place will go further.

Do you think you would want to climb a tower like this?

How was your experience visiting some famous architecture in your country?

Are you on Twitter? Follow my Expat Life stories and adventures in my Twitter page Here .

 

The Kuwait Grand Mosque’s grandeur

For my first post on f Architecture and Beyond, I would like to share with you my personal Glimpse on Muslim Rich Islamic Culture through the wonderful experience of having my first ever Mosque visit.

Since I was living in a Islamic country where Masjid (or Mosque ) are a common sight, I thought of exploring this in a very conventional way. Everyday I hear the prayer calls,and eventually I  got used to it. I was curious at the same time in awe of the culture behind this structure.

It was one fine Saturday morning when I decided to join the Tour and Lecture hosted by Aware Center for the Grand Mosque in Kuwait, the locals refers to it as the Masjid Al Kabeer. As a Non-Muslim Expat ,I am always curious and fascinated of the vivid Islamic culture. I have high respect on its teachings and my interest in Architecture and beautiful structures always lead me to amazing discoveries such as this.

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Embracing Islamic Culture

A Kuwaiti Symbol of Islamic Heritage

Kuwait Grand Mosque is strategically located overlooking the Arabian Gulf and opposite the magnificent Seif Palace or the Government Head Quarters. This striking structure is world -renowned Islamic landmark in Kuwait. Almost every year, Kuwait is visited by dignitaries,tourists & students from all over the world . But discovering inside is quite an experience that leaves me breathless. As we all know that Mosques are religious establishment and although it is open for public praying purposes, exploring it in detail requires an appointment & a guide. During the month of Ramadan, The Grand Mosque is attended with approx. 180,000 worshippers.With its courtyards alone, it can accomodate 60,000 worshippers. It is the main host for congregational & annual Eid Prayers as well as various religious ceremonies. The 5 daily prayers are usually held in the Annex Hall that hold 500 worshippers. It has a special Prayer hall for Women with a separate ground floor entrance on the southern side that can hold 1000 worshippers.

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The Architecture  & Beyond

The design of the Grand Mosque is according to the traditional Islamic Architecture with hints of Kuwaiti & GCC influences. It has the Islamic touch that is in harmony with Kuwait’s pride of architectural distinct features.The combination of modern construction techniques, fully patterned Islamic ornamentation  and Arabic calligraphy is imminent on both exterior & interiors of the whole structure.The main structure ,foundations,intricate columns,majestic ceiling & Minaret were built using fortified concrete.As you gaze through the outer courtyards,you will see that the outer walls were coated by natural rocks,while inner ones coated with mixture of marble ,Morrocan gypsum,and other magnificent colorful ceramics.It was so beautiful .The main courtyard on the eastern side of the grand Mosque includes water closets & ablution areas. It has Three Prayer halls and the Grand Mosque has 21 Doors made of Indian hand-carved Teak wood.

 

The Dome and its ethereal Beauty

This is the nucleus of the Grand Mosque’s design. I was staring at this beauty for long time that leaves me open-mouthed because it was so beautiful. It was so intricate, almost ethereal. Aesthetically, the huge dome was decorated with attributes of Allah in a hand-carved Mosaic. It includes 144 windows to provide natural light.

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The Dome inside the Grand Mosque

Facilities

The Grand  Mosque has a special building for Administration,and a 350 sq/mts Library that includes hundreds of Islamic books and references to be used for special researches while doing their research and writings. It has an underground parking that can hold up to 500 vehicles. There is a special entrance and Hall to receive His Highness Sheikh Sabah Al-Jaber Al-Sabah  and other dignitaries.I was thrilled to see this hall. I gazed,touched and  was mesmerized by the beautiful ceramics,intricate Moroccan gypsum geometric wall carvings .There is an enormous chandelier that adorns the Hall.The highlight in this Hall is the replica of the first original Quran traced back to the 7th century A.D.The Amiri Hall was awesome.

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Beautiful Blue & Gold carpeted floor inside the Grand Mosque

Travel Tip :

If you want to have a rewarding experience like this, I highly recommend to check out Aware Center. They can take you into a wonderful experience as they did to me. They hold their personal guided tours for the Grand Mosque which includes Lectures on Islamic Culture, Islam & Historical significance. You can sign up and enjoy a wonderful morning.Children & Non-Muslims expats  are welcome. Please be reminded that women should be dressed modestly on this visit. You will be asked to wear an Abaya & cover your head before entering the Mosque.They have a very cozy Diwaniya Hall to receive the guests and welcomed with refreshments, brochures and souvenirs.

If you are in Kuwait, you can check out the Aware Center’s official website to view their schedule of events, normally they hold Grand Mosque Tour every 2nd Saturday of the month. Their representative, Ms. Iman Martin is very knowledgeable and such a great guide.

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Have you ever been inside a Mosque as a Non-Muslim? How was your experience?

If you like this post, then you might want to check out my other post on Exploring the Kuwaiti heritage sites in the Kuwait category. Feel free to browse and learn more about fascinating things you can only find in Kuwait.

Once again, Salam & Thank you for reading!