Taza Pir Mosque, the central mosque of Azerbaijan and the largest mosque of Baku, is one of the finest buildings of its kind in the country. It was commissioned by Nabat khanim Ashurbeyli, a female member of the local bourgeoise and famous philanthropist of the early 20th century, and designed by the renowned architect, Ziverbey Ahmadbeyov. The construction work, which started in 1904, was briefly interrupted by the death of Nabat khanim and was later completed by her son.
In a detailed post about the Ashurbeyovs’ clan, Nasrin Babanly says that Nabat khanim sponsored Ziverbey Ahmadbeyov’s trip to muslim countries farther East to study the mosque architecture and for inspiration. Upon return he presented her with a project of a temple with two-tier minarets. However, as a result of the intervention by the provincial authorities, the minarets were in the end built only up to the first tier. Interestingly, the first stone for the construction of the mosque was laid by the famous oil baron, Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev. Unfortunately, Nabat Khanum Ashurbeyli didn’t live to see the mosque completed but as a sign of respect her body was buried in its grounds.
Standing the test of time
Following the October Revolution the building had been closed for 29 years when it served, among many other purposes, as a cinema and a barn. In addition, during the massacres organized by Russians and Armenians in Baku in March 1918 many prominent buildings of the city, including Taza Pir, were burnt, raided or severely damaged. The mosque was also badly affected by the earthquake of 2000 but the reconstruction work brought it back to its finest. Today’s restored mosque is decorated with motives from Azerbaijani school of painting and rare oriental ornaments. Mihrab (a semicircular niche in the wall that indicates the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca) and the dome are made of marble, the women’s chapel is made from the pistachio wood, the windows and doors are made of mahogany while the tops of the minarets are made of gold. Nowadays the area of the mosque is 1400 sq meters and includes a school, Baku Islamic University, hotels, a conference hall and six halls for funeral ceremonies.
Where to find it
The mosque is situated about 10 mins by foot going West from the Fountain Square.