Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque
Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque (Azerbaijani: Yuxarı Gövhər Ağa məscidi) is a mosque located in Shusha, Azerbaijan. The mosque also bears the name Boyuk Juma (Great Mosque) of Govhar Agha (Azerbaijani: Gövhər Ağanın Cümə məscidi).
|Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque|
|Architect(s)||Karbalayi Safikhan Karabakhi|
|Founder||Ibrahim Khalil Khan|
The Yukhari Govhar Agha means "The Upper Govhar Agha Mosque" in Azerbaijani language, referring to location of the mosque in the upper section of Shusha town and to distinguish it from the Ashaghi Govhar Agha Mosque, the same-name mosque located in lower section of the town. Both mosques are considered symbols of Shusha and masterpiece of Eastern architecture. The Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque is located on Shusha's main square, Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli street and makes up a big part of architectural complex including madrasa, shops and houses built by the same architect. According to historian and author of "Karabakh-name", Mirza Jamal Karabakhi, construction of the mosque was started with orders of Ibrahim Khalil Khan in 1768 (1182 according to Islamic calendar) but was stopped for a long time. The construction was then restarted and completed in 1883–1885 by architect Karbalayi Safikhan Karabakhi ordered by Govhar Agha, daughter of Ibrahim Khalil Khan.
The exterior and interiorEdit
The prayer hall of Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque is a three-nave in a square shape (190–185 meters) split by 6 stone columns. The three-beam veranda in the northern section of the mosque gives it a rectangular form (26.5 × 21.5 meters). The mosque has two minarets. The balconies used to host women's premises of the prayer hall. The interior of the prayer hall gets light from dual windows. The two minarets by the facade make up the veranda. The building of the mosque was constructed out of stone while the two minarets are made of bricks. The minarets have cylindric forms with horizontal belts with each section laid in distinguishing brick patterns. The same construction pattern can be viewed in most of the mosques throughout Karabakh built by Kerbalayi Safikhan Karabakhi.
In Soviet times the mosque was closed and used as a museum, but reopened as a functioning mosque in 1988. After the capture of Shusha by Karabakhi-Armenian forces in 1992, the mosque stopped functioning. Following a minor restoration of the mosque in 2008–2009, fixing the roof, officials from Nagorno-Karabakh Ministry of Economy ordered a restoration project, hiring Iranian experts to carry out the restoration works. Azerbaijani officials expressed their unhappiness with the restoration project, with the Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations Gunduz Ismayilov claiming that "Armenia’s intention to restore the historical Azerbaijani mosque in Shusha is an attempt to cover up the vandalism it did to Azerbaijani cultural-religious monuments in the occupied territories".
After several years of restoration work, the Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque, neighboring madrasa, and park were formally opened for tourism with a ceremony on 14 October 2019. The project was undertaken by the Initiative for Development of Armenia (IDeA) Foundation with the support of private donations, with notable contributions from Russian-Armenian businessman Ruben Vardanyan's Revival of Oriental Historical Heritage Foundation. and Kazakh businessman Kairat Boranbayev.
The complex was to be used as an Armenian-Iranian Cultural Center. Notably, there was no mention of the former Azeri presence and the complex was presented as an Iranian mosque. There are now plans to convert the building back into a functioning mosque.
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