Water and Sound in Islamic Architecture


Water and Sound in Islamic Architecture


Patricia Blessing



This talk examines the presence and meaning of sound and water in pre-modern Islamic architecture. Examples include palaces, religious spaces, and a hospital to present a diverse picture of the ways in which water is present within architecture and human-made landscapes. The sound of water emerges as a major aspect in shaping the sensory experience of these spaces.


Blessing, Patricia. “The Vessel as Garden: The ‘Alhambra Vases’ and Sensory Perception in Nasrid Architecture,” in: Sensory Reflections: Traces of Experience in Medieval Artifacts, ed. Fiona Griffiths and Kathryn Starkey (Berlin: De Gruyter, 2018), 116-141.

Ergin, Nina. “The Soundscape of Sixteenth-Century Istanbul Mosques: Architecture and Qur’an Recital,” JSAH 67, no. 2 (June 2008): 204–221.

Frishkopf, Michael Aaron, and Federico Spinetti, ed. Music, Sound, and Architecture in Islam. Austin: The University of Texas Press, 2018.

Puerta Vílchez, José Miguel. La poética del agua en el Islam = The Poetics of Water in Islam. Sabarís, Baiona: Trea, 2011.

Ruggles, D. Fairchild. Islamic Gardens and Landscapes. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.


Patricia Blessing, “Water and Sound in Islamic Architecture,” Khamseen: Islamic Art History Online, published 28 August 2020.

Patricia Blessing is Assistant Professor of Islamic Art History in the Department of Art & Archaeology at Princeton University, where she received her PhD in 2012. Her book, Rebuilding Anatolia after the Mongol Conquest: Islamic Architecture in the Lands of Rūm, 1240–1330 (Ashgate, 2014) investigates the relationship between patronage, politics, and architectural style after the integration of the region into the Mongol empire.