As we all know, Russia is such a vast country. In the entire nation there are three famous Bulgar Mosques; two in Kazan, Tatarstan and the other one in Cheboksary, Chuvashia. The one we will discuss about in this article, though, is the one in Kazan. The other famous mosque from the Republic of Tatarstan is the Kul Sharif Mosque. The history of Islam in Tatarstan is descended from Volga Bulgaria, the first Muslim state within the borders of Russia. Today, the number of Muslim in the whole Republic of Tatarstan is about 38% of 3.8 million of the total populations. Let us now take a look at 8 beautiful facts of Bulgar Mosque in Russia.
1. Out of the two Bulgar Mosques in Kazan, Tatarstan, the outstanding one is also known as The White Mosque and younger than the other one. This White Mosque is the Bulgar Mosque we will have a look at. The older one lies in Novo-Savinovsk district and it was built to commemorate the 1100th anniversary of Volga Bulgaria’s Islamisation. The opening year was 1993. The newer Bulgar Mosque is located on the Spassky district, Kazan, opened on June 10, 2012.
2. The design of the Bulgar White Mosque adopted the Taj Mahal’s structure, and so that’s why locals call this worshipping place as “Kazan Taj Mahal”. The architect, Sergey Shakurov, built not only a mosque but also an Islamic complex surrounding the prayer square. There are a madrasah – or an Islamic school, a residence for the muftis, a fountain, and an office for the Imam. An artifical lake was also made on the square so that the whole mosque could be reflected on the surface of the water.
3. Hence the name, Bulgar White Mosque is entirely white and made of one thousand and two hundred tons of marble. The color represents purity and peace, gleaming under the sun on a fine summer day and during winter; it looks like a vast, majestic castle from paradise.
4. The mosque is now the home to the world’s largest Qur’an from the middle of 16th century. It was brought to Kazan on November 17th, 2011 and then put in the Kul Sharif Mosque before being transferred to the Bulgar White Mosque. The Qur’an is 800 kilograms in weight with 2 meters in length, and 1.5 meters in width. Each of the pages weighs 250 grams and 25 centimeters thick. The cover of the Qur’an is embedded with gem stones and the entire of the holy book was printed in Italy. It takes about 16 men to lift the Qur’an. On May 12, 2012, Tatarstan Muslims took turn reading the Qur’an for a day and a night at the Kul Sharif Mosque.
5. There are two minarets of the mosque, each 46.5 meters high and built – by the request of Mintimer Shaimiev, the first President of Tatarstan – to resemble the style of the minarets of the Mosque of the Prophet in Medina, the place Muslims go to during their pilgrimage. The main dome is 10 meters in diameter, 17 diameters in height and decorated with traditional elements. The prayer hall is 180 square meters wide and can accommodate thousands of worshippers, being the first floor for the women and the second one for men. Beautiful chandeliers ornament the interior of the mosque and add to the beauty of it.
6. Regular mosques in Tatarstan were built based on the rationalist design or an architectural design developed in Italy during the 1930’s. They are mostly square, strudy and tall with one minaret and a rather box-y dome. The whole look may seem like a parliament building and reserved with calm and neutral colors. This is why when different sorts of architectural style are applied to mosques in Tatarstan like the Kul Sharif and White Mosque, they quickly steal the limelight and become tourist attractions as well as a friendly way to introduce Islam to more people.
7. The Bulgar White Mosque stands on an arcade of the ancient Bolgar which is one of UNESCO World Heritage sites. To honor the site, the whole complex is still in touch with nature and the old ruins by the Volga River bank. Visitors can see the excavation of the ancient site while visiting the mosque.
8. Kazan Taj Mahal or the Bulgar White Mosque is included in one of the most beautiful mosques in Russia also ones with the most astonishing architectural design.
The majority of Tatarstan people are Sunni Muslims. This branch of Islam maintains peace and avoids the growth of radicals and extremists in the republic. The decision for the government to restore Bulgar and construct the Bulgar White Mosque stemmed from two reasons; to flourish the tourism in the republic and to return the good image of Islam in Russia after what happened in Chechnya. Tatarstan is wealthy from oil and gas, so expecting for revenue from the tourism is definitely not the republic’s goal. Together with Kul Sharif Mosque in the Kazan Kremlin, the White Mosque of Bulgar is doing the favor by presenting a clean, peaceful, beautiful and welcoming image of Islam in Russia.
Being built in the ancient site included in the list of the World Heritage, Bulgar White Mosque will definitely make it to the itinerary of people traveling to Russia. Kazan is already beautiful, so why not going there for a change of Moscow and St. Petersburg? The 8 beautiful facts of Bulgar Mosque above may lure you to come and see the worshipping place on your own. To the Muslims it may become a pilgrimage, and to non-Muslims it is enrichment to the soul.