The architects and artists who worked in the service of early Islam were likewise driven by the wish to create a physical backdrop which would bolster the claims of their religion. Holding that God was the source of all understanding, Islam placed particular emphasis on the divine qualities of mathematics. Muslim artisans covered the walls of houses and mosques with repeating sequences of delicate and complicated geometries, through which the infinite wisdom of God might be intimated. This ornamentation, so pleasingly intricate on a rug or a cup, was nothing less than hallucinatory when applied to an entire hall. Eyes accustomed to seeing only the practical and humdrum objects of daily life could, inside such a room, survey a world shorn of all associations with the everyday.
—- Alain de Botton, The Architecture of Happiness
The honeycomb-like niches here are called muqarnas.
(Source: , via mudwerks)