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President Ilham Aliyev and his wife Mehriban Aliyeva have been familiarized with the progress of work on the restoration and reconstruction of the Shamakhi Juma Mosque being carried out at the initiative of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation.
It was indicated that the Juma mosque, one of the oldest Muslim temples not only in Azerbaijan but also in the South Caucasus and the Middle East in general, was built in 743. The 1859 and 1902 earthquakes caused a serious damage to the mosque. Then, it was restored as per the design of Azerbaijan’s first architect with higher education, Ziver-bek Ahmedbayov, and Polish engineer Joseph Ploshko. The excavation carried out at the Juma mosque in the 1970-80s discovered medrese, cells and tombstones. During the genocide and looting perpetrated by the Armenians in Shamakhi in March 1918, the bloodiest carnage was unleashed at the Juma mosque. Using the fact that the people of Shamakhi took refuge in the mosque as in the house of Allah, the Armenians set fire to it killing almost 1700 innocent people. In Soviet times, the mosque, which obviously was not used for its intended purpose, faced with the threat of destruction.
On behalf and at the initiative of nationwide leader Heydar Aliyev, who treated the development of Azerbaijan in all areas, including the preservation of national and spiritual values, with great attention and care, this historical monument was renovated in 1980. The preservation and development of national and spiritual values are always in the focus of attention for President Ilham Aliyev. On the initiative and instruction of the President, dozens of mosques, religious temples, historical monuments and shrines were built, renovated and reconstructed in the capital and elsewhere. This noble idea prompted President Ilham Aliyev to visit the Juma mosque during his last year's visit to Shamakhi and to sign a decree on additional measures for the restoration of this state historical and architectural monument.
It is also worth highlighting the projects being implemented in this area by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation. The projects and measures being taken by the Foundation on the initiative of its President, Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO, MP Mehriban Aliyeva aim to preserve the national and spiritual values and restore the religious and architectural monuments, and primarily serve the preservation and transmission to future generations of the centuries-long heritage and culture of the Azerbaijani people. Work on the reconstruction of the Shamakhi Juma mosque within the framework of the Foundation’s project "Address of Tolerance: Azerbaijan" will give a second life to this monument which is a masterpiece of Azerbaijani and eastern architecture.
It was reported that the mosque’s congregation hall covers 1,316 square meters. Restoration and reconstruction work is powering ahead at the mosque, which occupies an area of one hectare. Old auxiliary buildings have been knocked down and new ones are being built instead. Also completed is the concrete work on the replacement of the old dome. The construction of a new dome will begin at the next stage. The dome will be decorated with patterns and ornaments in the ancient architectural tradition. The foundation for two 36-meter minarets of the mosque has already been laid. In order to improve their stability, their foundation has been reinforced at a depth of 15 meters. Arched corridors that will surround the Juma mosque on three sides are being erected. Four of them have already been constructed, the building of a fifth is nearing completion, while the construction of a sixth will begin shortly.
It was indicated that a conference hall, a library, ritual and other facilities will be built in the mosque. Since Shamakhi is located in a seismic zone, the foundation of the mosque at a depth of one meter has been reinforced with concrete structures. In accordance with the new design, a four-meter entrance gate with a domed top will also be installed outside the mosque. Antique cells will also be restored and extensive improvement work conducted around the mosque.
In order to carry out the work on the restoration and reconstruction of the Juma mosque with high quality and in accordance with centuries-long traditions of national architecture, AZN 4 million has been allocated from the Reserve Fund of the President of Azerbaijan to the Executive Authority of Shamakhi District. This will help to reconstruct the Juma mosque, which has always been known and highly esteemed by the population as a sacred place of worship and been noted for its unique architectural style, antiquity and originality, without any flaws.