Saint Petersburg Masjid – St. Petersburg, Russia

Saint Petersburg Masjid – St. Petersburg, Russia

The Saint Petersburg Masjid, when opened in 1913, was the largest masjid in Europe outside Turkey. Its minarets 49 meters in height and the dome is 39 meters high. The masjid is situated in downtown St. Petersburg. It can accommodate up to 5,000 worshippers. Worshippers are separated by gender during a worship service. Females worship on the first floor, while the males worship on the ground floor. The Masjid was closed to worshippers from 1940 to 1956.

The founding stone was laid in 1910 to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the reign of Abdul Ahad Khan in Bukhara. By that time, the Muslim community of the Russian then-capital exceeded 8,000 people. The projected structure was capable of accommodating most of them. The architect Nikolai Vasilyev patterned the masjid after Gur-e Amir, the tomb of Tamerlane in Samarkand. Its construction was completed by 1921.

In 1882, Selim-Girei Tevkelev who in 1865 was appointed the Mufti of Orenburg turned to and obtained agreement from minister Count Tolstoy with the requirement for a masjid in St. Petersburg. In 1906, the Minister formed a special committee headed by Ahun Ataulla Bayazitov to collect 750,000 rubles within 10 years for the construction of the masjid. They organised collections in towns and providences of Russia and received donations from many sponsors. In addition the committee input securities in total amount of 142,000 rubles and also stamps for masjid’s project. The biggest donor was Said Abdul Ahad, Emir of Bukhara who undertook all expenses for the building.

The location of the masjid was symbolic, sited opposite the Peter and Paul Fortress, in the city centre. The permission to purchase the site was given by Emperor Nicholas II in Peterhof on 3 July 1907. That autumn, the committee approved the project by architect Nikolai Vasilyev, the engineer Stepan Krichinsky, and construction was overseen by academic Alexander von Hohen. The building facade was made by combining both oriental ornaments and turquoise blue mosaic.

On 3 February 1910, the brick laying ceremony was performed by Ahun Bayazitov, attended by government, religious and social figures. Among those who attended were Mohammed Alim Khan, the ambassadors of Turkey and Persia, and Tevkelev, the leader of the Muslims party in the Duma .

The walls were made with grey granite and the dome and both minarets (tower) are covered with mosaic ceramics of sky-light-blue colour. Skilled craftsmen from Central Asia took part working on the masjid. The facades are decorated with sayings from Koran using the characteristic Arabian calligraphy. Internal columns are made from green marble. Women pray on the first floor, above the western part of the hall. The masjid was covered by huge special made carpets woven by the Central Asian craftsmen.

In 1940 Soviet authorities banned services and turned the building into a medical equipment storehouse. During the Second World War St. Petersburg Masjid was closed and was made into a warehouse. At the request of the first Indonesian President, Soekarno, ten days after his visit to the city, the masjid was returned to the Muslim Religious community of St. Petersburg in 1956. A major restoration of the masjid was carried out in 1980.

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Source: Wikipedia | Photo: Ivonna Nowicka

 

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