The Italian constitution lays out in no uncertain terms the fundamental right to worship without discrimination. However, the Muslim population of Italy, numbering around 1.5 million people, only has eight official mosques in which to worship, despite the fact that Islam is currently the nation’s second largest religion.

As a consequence, hundreds of unofficial, improvised mosques have sprung up throughout the country, behind anonymous facades, located in places as diverse as warehouses, garages, gyms, and shops.

A parking lot used as a place of worship, Province of Treviso

Italian photographer Nicolò Degiorgis has documented this phenomenon in a self-published monograph called Hidden Islam. The book features photos taken over the course of four years, and which last week won the Paris Photo-Aperture Foundation PhotoBook Award.

A supermarket used as a place of worship, Province of Treviso

Each photo contrasts the dull and mundane exteriors of these unlikely houses of prayer with the vivid, pious scenes taking place inside. 

A warehouse used as a makeshift place of worship, Province of Treviso
A parking lot used as a makeshift place of worship, Province of Treviso
A warehouse used as a makeshift place of worship, Province of Udine

The project gives us a glimpse into a country where Islamophobia is growing, and the difficulties of absorbing increasingly large waves of immigrants are felt by many.

A supermarket used as a makeshift place of worship, Province of Trento
A warehouse used as a makeshift place of worship, Province of Verona
A supermarket used as a makeshift place of worship, Province of Trento
A warehouse used as a makeshift place of worship, Province of Venice