The Republic of Chechnya in Russia has a long and quite bitter history. For once it wanted to be separated from Russia and the rage gave birth to extremists and separatists in Chechnya. Their actions against the government spread terrors across the country and the region was, for quite some time, closed for visitors because of the war. In 1996, Chechnya succeeded at claiming their independence. But during Putin’s presidency, Russia took the region back and it has been part of the country ever since.
Grozny, the capital of The Republic of Chechnya, was once completely destroyed from the war. But today, almost no evidence of the dark days can be seen in the city. It is now sparkling and even dubbed as mini Dubai because of the modern high-end tall buildings, five-star hotels, apartments and more. The capital has been reborn and face-lifted. It is also way friendlier to visitors and tourism is boosting.
Being a true Islamic republic, Chechnya has a mosque as its heart. Located on the Putina Avenue, on the picturesque bank of the Sunzha River, stands a large mosque known as the Heart of Chechnya. Now, we are going to get to know about this iconic mosque which real name is Akhmad Kadyrov. Who is the man the grand mosque is named after? Akhmad Kadyrov was a Chechen Republic rebel mufti who was against the Soviet government also the first president of the republic. He was assassinated in 2004 before the mosque project was even started even though he had taken the commission from the mayor of Konya, Turkey for the construction. The mosque took two years to be completed, from 2006 to 2008 and is now built in his memory. The mosque was officially opened for public on October 17th, 2008 by Ramzan Kadyrov – the President of Chechnya at that time who is also the son of Akhmad Kadyrov.
Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque is one of the biggest mosques in Russia and Europe and can accommodate 10,000 worshippers at one time. The design was based on the classical Ottoman style – also adopting the look of Istanbul’s Blue Mosque, with a huge main dome (16 meters in diameter, and 32 meters in height) surrounded by smaller domes, and four super tall minarets reaching 62 meters in height. These are the highest minarets in southern Russia. The Heart of Chechnya can easily be seen since it is out in the open, right in the middle of a 14 hectares park. It is also a part of an Islamic complex where the other buildings are being the Russian Islamic University, a library, a madrasa, a dormitory and the Spiritual Administration of Muslims of the Republic of Chechnya.
Russia is known to be the home to some of the most beautiful mosques in the world, and Akhmad Kadyrov is one of them. The dome seems to be floating on top of its four pillars. The outer walls are covered with travertine marble, while the inner walls use the white marble from the Marmara Island on the Sea of Marmara, near Balikesir, Turkey. The dome was painted by Turkey artisans and adorned with verses from Sura Al-Ikhlas written in gold. What special about this mosque is its 36 chandeliers. Yes, you read it right, it has thirty six chandeliers! They are modeled to resemble other important mosques in the history of Islam. Twenty seven of them imitate the al-Kubbat Sahra or the Dome of Rock in Jerusalem, the other eight look like the Green Dome of al-Nabawi Mosque in Medina, and the biggest one is about 8 meters in length and width form the shape of the holy Kaaba of Mecca. These chandeliers were made of a few tons of bronze, 2.5 kilograms of the highest quality of gold, and more than a million pieces of Chechen ornaments and Turkey Swarovski crystals. So you can imagine how gorgeous these chandeliers are.
At night, the Heart of Chechnya is lit wonderfully. The lighting of the mosque is separated into three levels; the first one is floodlighting to illuminate the lower part of the building and minarets, the second level is accentual lighting to highlight the architectural features of the mosque, and the last one is festive lighting with colors to make the mosque more alive and beautiful at night. This view is adorned by a fountain right in front of the mosque and grassy paths that ribbon the park making ways to the “heart”.
As the identity and pride of The Republic of Chechnya and Grozny, Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque has become a tourist attraction besides being a worshipping place. It makes beautiful pictures that are worth to be turned into postcards. One of the most important things about this Heart of Chechnya is that it is a symbol of the republic’s freedom – although not in a sense of being an independent republic, but most importantly as a statement for Muslims there to be able to practice their faith in peace after being forbidden to do so for such a long time under the pressure of the Soviet Union government. It is definitely a very important establishment in the whole Chechnya.
Those were the highlights of the Heart of Chechnya that, hopefully, enlighten you about the history of the Akhmad Kadyrov Mosque and why it matters a lot to the people of Grozny in particular and Chechnya in general. Tourists now can put it in their itinerary or join tours that will help you getting around the building while keeping you from dressing falsely or falling out of the expected manner. There are also websites you can access for virtual tours to see the interior of the mosque. Another place you have to visit while you travel to Russia.