During my stay in Paris, I decided to venture into arrondissements that I hadn’t yet been acquainted with. Thanks to the prevalent social media, I had stumbled upon a photograph of The Grand Mosque of Paris and thereupon, I made it a mission to cross it off my bucket list. It could be perceived as ignorant or puzzling for a non-Muslim individual to visit a Muslim place of worship. However, I have never allowed religion to be an obstacle in my choices, ideologies and perceptions.
The mosque is situated in the fifth arrondissement near the National Museum of National History. Its white stucco walls and large wooden doors effortlessly blend in with the nearby baroque infrastructures. Once you enter the sanctuary, the homogeneity is soon replaced with a Hispano-Moresque style architecture. This distinct form of architecture is represented with ceramic tiles, peculiar mosaics also known as Girih, exquisite turquoise patterns and meticulous symmetry.
I spent most of the guided tour in the captivating garden, characterized by vivid turquoise ceramic tile surrounded with foliage, palm trees and lilacs. The Prayer Hall, which is prohibited for non-practicing visitors, can be accessed through the vast white courtyard, where Muslin men were engaged in post-prayer conversations.
For those wanting to put their feet up the café located on the lower level offers a full halal menu and traditional sheeshas at a small cost. The interior is decorated with orange wooden walls and opulent arabesque arches while the outside terrace favors the decor of the Mosque with its mosaic tabletops.
Visitors are welcome to make donations in addition to the inexpensive fee of 3€ for the tour. Taking a glimpse into the Islamic culture was undoubtedly a memorable experience, which I recommend to all as it is so often stigmatized and degraded.
Remember to dress accordingly.