Leading British archaeologist and member of the House of Lords, Colin Renfrew, says the destruction of historic mosques in Mosul, northern Iraq, by Islamic state militants (Isis) “is a disaster for the cultural heritage of Iraq, and indeed of Islam”. The Prophet Jirjis mosque and shrine in Mosul was destroyed on 27 July, according to unconfirmed press reports. The 14th-century mosque was the latest in a series of holy sites targeted by the jihadist group. — theartnewspaper.com
The mosque was built on an archaeological site dating back to 8th century BC and is said to be the burial place of the prophet, who in stories from both the Bible and Qur’an is swallowed by a whale.
It was renovated in the 1990s under Iraq’s late dictator Saddam Hussein and until the recent militant blitz that engulfed Mosul, remained a popular destination for religious pilgrims from around the world. — arabnews.com
On the Portal of Paradise on the western façade of the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in Manhattan are sculptures of the end of modern New York. The Brooklyn Bridge is breaking in two, a bus plummeting from it into the water while waves rise up over the toppling skyline. People run in a panic below the Stock Exchange, and next to them a scorpion, snake, and other signs of pestilence swarm a skeleton. — hyperallergic.com
Romania's Minister of Religious Affairs, Victor Opaschi, concedes that there is a close working relationship between the church and politicians during electoral campaigns, and that this is "not a good thing". — BBC News
Tessa Dunlop reports in from Romania where the Orthodox Church is in the midst of a growth spurt with as many as 10 new places of worship being completed every month, and the enormous Cathedral for the People's Salvation is slowly taking shape. However, Romanians have begun to question...
The Vatican’s presence at the Biennale is the brainchild of Cardinal Gianfranco Ravasi, an exuberant polymath who as president of the Pontifical Council for Culture since 2009 has tried to build bridges between the church and contemporary culture, two worlds that have often clashed. — nytimes.com
The ancient Afghan city of Ghazni has been designated an Asian city of Islamic Culture by the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation. But outsiders will find it difficult to see the city's famous Islamic and pre-Islamic architectural wonders because of the Taliban insurgency. — BBC News
Muslim scriptures are laconic on mosque design. The holy building must only face Mecca and be “guarded from enemies”. That gives a free hand to experimental architects and adventurous clergy. In Albania’s capital, Tirana, BIG, a Danish architectural firm, is erecting a mosque with walls like breaking waves. Their clever geometry helps it face Mecca—inconveniently askew from the city’s north-south grid layout. — economist.com
"You can have a grand dome and grand minaret, but if it doesn't really serve the purpose, if it only has a large prayer space and nothing else, then you're not really fulfilling the needs of the community," he says. — BBC News
In post 9/11 America the construction of new mosques in the US has sometimes sparked controversy and even confrontation. Is that why some new Muslim houses of worship are being built without the most recognisable features of Islamic architecture - minarets and domes?
Perhaps emboldened by the success of the atheist bus, or his own Living Architecture initiative (in which top architects design desirable holiday homes), or the fact that he's got a new book to promote, Alain de Botton is now proposing a series of temples for atheists to be built around the UK. — guardian.co.uk
“These churches must become not only a decoration of our city, but truly a phenomenon of civic and church art of our 21st century,” said Archimandrite Tikhon Shevkunov, the executive secretary of the Patriarchal Council for Culture, at a news conference. “They must become a kind of pearl of ancient tradition, uniting historic Moscow with its new districts and buildings.” He said the terms of the competition would be announced by the end of the year. — theartnewspaper.com
Some congregants at Crystal Cathedral said they felt blindsided by the church board after it threw its weight behind a bid from the Catholic Church –- an offer that effectively boots them from their landmark site in Garden Grove.
The ruling by U.S. Bankruptcy Court Judge Robert Kwan to allow the sale of Crystal Cathedral to the Diocese of Orange was met with tears. — latimesblogs.latimes.com
BIG, Martha Schwartz Landscape, Buro Happold, Speirs & Major, Lutzenberger & Lutzenberger, and Global Cultural Asset Management were today announced as the winning team of the international design competition for a new 27,000 m2 cultural complex in Albania, consisting of a Mosque, an Islamic Center, and a Museum of Religious Harmony. — bustler.net
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