Kalyan Mosque

 

Friday-prayer Kalyan Mosque is one of the ancient buildings of Poi-Kalyan Square. The chief mosque of any Muslim town is not just a temple but is also a public life center. But Bukhara’s chief Friday-prayer mosque, which was built after Islam had been established in the town, had really no luck. It was repeatedly relocated, a couple of times its roof collapsed, killing the praying people inside. Only when during the rule of the Karakhanides it was built next to Kalyan Minaret, the mosque seemed to have taken its proper place destined by Allah himself. The mosque then got the name Kalyan, after the minaret.

Early in the 16th century on the site of the old ramshackle mosque they began to build a new mosque. Of the 12th-century construction there remained only the lower parts of the walls made of bow bricks. It was the second, after Bibi-Khanum, largest mosque in Movarounnahr: it could accommodate 12000 people. The mastery of the architects is particularly amazing. The building has seven doorways to freely let in a large number of people. Each of the four sides of the mosque has a huge portal. The main of them, facing east, has very rich ornamental decoration. Below its arch you can see the inscription in Arabic characters with the date Kalyan Mosque was constructed: 1514. The portal stands on an elevation; several stairs inside lead to a large courtyard. On the opposite wall, under a huge peshtak, is mikhrab niche, facing Mecca. The ornamental mosaic in the mikhrab still bears the name of the master: Bayazid al Purani. Two large blue domes indicate the location of the praying niche.

In the courtyard of the mosque Bukhara architect Usto Shirin Murodov built an octahedral pavilion in 1915. It stands over the grave of one of the first imams of the mosque. Along the perimeter of the courtyard there are deep galleries covered with 288 little domes supported by 208 strong pillars. The colonnade makes the courtyard look even larger and creates the feeling of solemn piety. One of the domes of the gallery has an opening, through which Kalyan Minaret can be clearly seen. While looking through it and taking a step after a step, one can count all the bands of the decorative brickwork of the minaret and finally see its rotunda. On the other hand, standing with your back to the mikhrab, straight ahead one can see the huge peshtak of Miri Arab Madrassah, rising from behind the opposite portal of the mosque. Thus in a peculiar way three main buildings make an architectural ensemble of Poi Kalyan Square.