Three-hall Juma Mosque in Shamakhi

Three-hall Juma Mosque in Shamakhi

Azerbaijan's Shamakhi is a wonderful city in a lot of ways, especially from the point of view of history and culture. Archeologists found a settlement dating back to V-IV centuries BC. In II century AD this city was mentioned by Ptolemy as a settlement of Caucasian Albania. Main attraction of this city is XII century medieval fortress Gulistan, built as a defensive structure of Shirvanshahs. Walls of this fortress still retain their original appearance. There is also the "Seven Domes" mausoleum and the Shirvan rulers shrine.

Juma Mosque, which is called the oldest mosque in the Caucasus and the Middle East after the Derbent Cathedral Mosque, is extremely interesting for researchers. It was built in 743-744 - the date was determined thanks to Arabic inscription on the facade. At that time, structures that were later called Islamic monuments of ancient architecture were built in the territory of modern Azerbaijan. Juma Mosque was built on the central trade square. Madrasa was built near it, and later became a part of its architectural complex.

This mosque, which has several cultural layers, shows history of many different places Due to destructions and damage received during wars and earthquakes, mosque had to be restored several times.

It had to be reconstructed for the first time in XII century. After several centuries, archaeologists discovered a significant number of buildings dating back to that time, as well as constructional and architectural changes.

It was reconstructed for the second time in XVII century, during the reign of the Safavid dynasty, and for the third - after earthquake that happened in the middle of XIX century. By that time, Shamakhi was already a large city and a cultural center, but earthquake practically destroyed it. Repair works in Juma Mosque were carried out by resident of this city, Gasim bek Hajibababekov, based on sketches of Grigory Gagarin.

Juma Mosque had to be restore for the fourth time half a century later, after earthquake of 1902. Repair works were carried out based on project of Zivarbek Ahmedbekov, and after that - architect Josef Ploshko. Ploshko's project was based on the old plan and results of unfinished construction, although he added more elements. However, due to lack of funding, some elements had to be excluded from the project.

Mosque suffered significant damage due to actions of Armenian nationalists (the March 1918 events). According to some reports, local residents hid in Juma Mosque, but nationalists set fire to it while people were still inside. According to other sources, people were forcibly driven to this mosque and set on fire. Rare manuscripts and books were burned together with people.

In the Soviet era, mosque once again faced threat of destruction, since it wasn't used for its intended purpose. However, archaeologists still worked there. In the early 1970s, they found remains of an ancient portal - the main entrance to courtyard of this mosque. In 1980, at the instruction of Heydar Aliyev, Juma Mosque was repaired. Two decades later it was declared historical and cultural monument of national importance.

In 2009, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev issued order to restore Juma Mosque. Foundation of this mosque has been reinforced with concrete, so it's very likely that there's no longer any threat of earthquakes.

Entrances to mosque and its domes, decorated with ancient ornaments, were restored. 1,500 people can worship in Juma Mosque at the same time. Courtyard of this mosque was also repaired, two swimming pools and six galleries were built.

Opening of the reconstructed Juma Mosque was held in 2013. Azerbaijani President, as well as Mufti of the Peoples of the Caucasus and ambassadors of Muslim countries participated in it.