“One thinks of…” Robert Byron describing monuments

As I have already written, the Road to Oxiana can be seen as an artistic  Bildungsroman, where the author, while traveling, becomes more and more aware of Islamic art. This awareness changes Byron’s perspectives and point of view: the more Byron travels, the more knowledge of Islamic art and architecture he builds. This background change…

The Imamzada of Khvajah Rabi’ by Byron, Yate, and Pope

It suits my mood. After having gone as far East as Herat, Afghanistan, around Christmas 1933 we find Robert Byron once again in Mashhad, where he had already been in the first half of November 1933. Between late November and mid-December 1933, Robert Byron tried to move further East, to Turkestan, but bad weather and…

Arg-i Tabriz

it had once been a mosque, […] one of the biggest ever built During his visit to Tabriz on the 15th of October 1933, Byron records two monuments: one is the despised Blue Mosque, the other one is the Arg-e Tabriz, literally the Forterss of Tabriz. The short description that Byron gives of the building is quite…

The Friday Mosque of Varamin

‘From a distance, it resembles a ruined abbey’ The Friday Mosque of Varamin is the last monument Byron includes in his account under the 10th October 1933. Byron starts his brief description of the monument comparing it with the Tintern Abbey, in Wales. The only difference, according to Byron, the fact that the mosque ‘has…

Gunbad-i ‘Ala al-Din

‘This one […] was tenanted by an opium fiend who looked up from cooking his lunch to tell us that it was his home and 3000 years old.’ On the 10th of October 1933, Byron records in his travel journal three monuments: two tomb towers, and one mosque. The first tomb tower he mentions is…

Tughril Tower

‘a fluted grave-tower […] whose lower part is Seljuk’ In his entry, dated October 10th 1933, Byron briefly mentions two funerary towers: the first, the Tughril Tower in Rayy, the second, a tomb tower in Varamin. The Tughril Tower, located in Rayy, is indeed a monumental construction built around 1140. It is weird Byron does…

Gunbad-i ‘Alaviyyan

“This at last wipes the taste of the Alhambra and the Taj Mahal out of one’s mouth, where Mohammedan art is concerned. I came to Persia to get rid of that taste.” The very first monument that Byron describes after arriving in Persia, is the Gunbad-i ‘Alaviyyan. The visit is recorded in his journal on…

The Monuments on the Road to Oxiana

Robert Byron’s The Road to Oxiana is certainly one of the best-known and most-read travelogues: ‘perhaps the best travel book of the 20th century’, it’s book no. 40 in the list of the 100 best nonfiction books of The Guardian. The book is a marvelous and addictive account of the 10-month-long journey of Robert Byron across the…