Today, Muslim in Russia takes up to 20% of the total populations in the country. Some republics, like Chechnya and Dagestan, are Islamic and almost wholly inhabited by Muslims. Therefore, it is not a wonder that there are around 8,000 mosques in Russia and some are highly aesthetic and unique. We are now about to take a look at a mosque in Ufa, the capital of the Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia. Ufa is the eleventh most populous city in Russia, according to 2010 census. Among the city’s modernity and beauty, there’s an eccentric mosque called Lala Tulpan. What is special about this place of worship? Let us see these 6 surprising facts of this mosque in Ufa, Russia.
1. Built during the Soviet Union era
It was not easy for Russians to be religious when the Soviet Union was still strong. Having faith and worshipping God, any form of it, was forbidden by the government. A lot of worshipping places; churches, mosques, synagogues – were shut down even destroyed. Only a few with historical values were preserved after getting stripped from their religious function and turned into museums. In 1980’s, though, Gorbachev’s Perestroika – or the Soviet political and economy restructuring – allow new worshipping places to be built and religious practice to resume. In 1989, the construction of the Lala Tulpan mosque officially started. It had to be put on hold for 7 years due to the lack of funds, and then completed only in a year after the construction resumed in 1997.
2. It has no dome
Adopting the modern and futuristic style, Wakil Davlyatshin – the architect of the mosque – designed a dome-less building. This is something new and the only one in Russia. The roof is made of three pyramids overlapping one another that when it is viewed from above would resemble a blooming Tulip flower – hence the name of the mosque Lala Tulpan which means “Tulip in Bloom”. The tones chosen for the whole building are no more than white and red to emphasize the “petals” even when it is winter and the whole mosque is blanketed with snow. When you enter the mosque, three superimposed triangle frames will welcome you at the door, sharpening the futuristic style of the whole building.
3. The minarets are special
Resembling two identical Tulip buds, Lala Tulpan Mosque’s minarets stand tall at the top end of the steps before the entrance. Their heights reach 53 meters and are the third tallest minarets in Russia after the Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque in Grozny and the Qolsharif Mosque in Kazan. Just like the roof of the mosque, the “stems” of the minarets are painted white with the “buds” red. During winter, they look like two flaming torches that symbolize the burning spirit of the Ufa’s Muslims that never dims.
4. More than just a mosque
Lala Tulpan can contain about 1,000 prayers in its three-story establishment. The ground floor is for men, while the first and second for women. Besides a worshipping building, this mosque also has other functions on the side namely a meeting hall, a dining room, a hostel, and a madrasa or Islamic school. So, it is not a wonder that Lala Tulpan is one of the largest mosques in Russia.
5. Brings the nation together
Considering the size of the building, Lala Tulpan is officially a national Mosque also Bashkortostan’s main Muslim Center. In 2001, Vladimir Putin held a meeting with Russia’s highest Muslim clerics, Talgat Tadzhuddin and other scholars to discuss about the diversity and harmony in Russia. Looking back at the rough history in Russia that involved radical Islamic groups spreading terrors across the nation to show how much they were against the government, the meeting surely was very important and Ufa was proud to host the event. More and more notable meetings have been taking place in Lala Tulpan and it has been growing as a great religious center.
6. A mixture of traditional and modern culture
Wakil Davlyatshin liked his design clean and honestly modern. This can be seen from the shapes and lines he put around the mosque. The interior of the mosque is not filled with calligraphy like how a mosque commonly is. As a replacement, he put a lot of geometric patterns for decorations. But, Davlyatshin respected Tatar’s traditional signature by implementing its architectural trademarks on the preacher’s pulpit which is made of high quality wood elevated to a certain height after a set of steps. The pulpit is decorated with a mozaic art. So when you visit Lala Tulpan it would feel like stepping into a warm home after being amazed by an other-worldly exterior.
Ufa is definitely one of the cities you have to visit while going to Russia. It’s one of the most beautiful and ancient. Going around the city is going to be a peaceful and relaxing experience which will throw away all the negative stigmas about Islamic city. Even if you are not a Muslim, Lala Tulpan is a must-visit. It’s going to give you pictures you can turn into postcards and people who have visited the mosque would tell you that it is beautiful in every season and all kinds of lighting condition. If the day is fair, you can see the gorgeous ray of light throbbing into the interior of the mosque. You have to see it for yourself. Remember though, it is a place where people pray, so you would want to be respectful with the way you dress and act while you’re there.
So that was the 6 surprising facts about Lala Tulpan Mosque in Ufa that hopefully could help you to write down another destination you want to visit in the future when you have the time to travel to Russia. The mosque is situated on 5 Komarova Street, Ufa, Republic of Bashkortostan, Russia. Have a note of that and enjoy the trip.