Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque
|Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque|
|Location||de facto Shushi, Nagorno-Karabakh Republic|
de jure Shusha, Azerbaijan
|Architect(s)||Karbalayi Safikhan Karabakhi|
|Founder||Ibrahim Khalil Khan|
Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque (Azerbaijani: Yuxarı Gövhar Ağa məscidi; Armenian: Գյովհար Աղայի վերին մզկիթ) is a Shi'i mosque located in Shusha, in the disputed region of Nagorno-Karabakh. It is currently under the control of the de facto Nagorno-Karabakh Republic since the capture of Shusha on 8 May 1992. The mosque also bears the name Boyuk Juma (Great Mosque) of Govhar Agha (Azerbaijani: Gövhər Ağanın Cümə məscidi; Armenian: Գյովհար Աղայի վերին մզկիթ).
The Yukhari Govhar Agha means "The Upper Govhar Agha Mosque" in Azerbaijani language, referring to location of the mosque in the upper section of Shusha town and to distinguish it from the Ashaghi Govhar Agha Mosque, the same-name mosque located in lower section of the town. Both mosques are considered symbols of Shusha and masterpiece of Eastern architecture. The Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque is located on Shusha's main square, Yusif Vazir Chamanzaminli street and makes up a big part of architectural complex including madrasa, shops and houses built by the same architect. According to historian and author of "Karabakh-name", Mirza Jamal Karabakhi, construction of the mosque was started with orders of Ibrahim Khalil Khan in 1768 (1182 according to Islamic calendar) but was stopped for a long time. The construction was then restarted and completed in 1883–1885 by the architect Karbalayi Safikhan Karabakhi ordered by Govhar Agha, daughter of Ibrahim Khalil Khan.
The exterior and interior
The prayer hall of Yukhari Govhar Agha Mosque is a three-nave in a square shape (190–185 meters) split by 6 stone columns. The three-beam veranda in the northern section of the mosque gives it a rectangular form (26.5 × 21.5 meters). The mosque has two minarets. The balconies used to host women's premises of the prayer hall. The interior of the prayer hall gets light from dual windows. The two minarets by the facade make up the veranda. The building of the mosque was constructed out of stone while the two minarets are made of bricks. The minarets have cylindric forms with horizontal belts with each section laid in distinguishing brick patterns. The same construction pattern can be viewed in most of the mosques throughout Karabakh built by Kerbalayi Safi Khan Karabakhi.
After capture of Shusha by Karabakhi-Armenian forces, the mosque stopped functioning. Following a minor restoration of the mosque in 2008-2009, fixing the roof, officials from Nagorno-Karabakh Ministry of Economy ordered a restoration project, hiring Iranian experts to carry out the restoration works. Azerbaijani officials expressed their unhappiness with the restoration project, with the Deputy Chairman of the State Committee for Work with Religious Organizations Gunduz Ismayilov claiming that "Armenia’s intention to restore the historical Azerbaijani mosque in Shusha is an attempt to cover up the vandalism it did to Azerbaijani cultural-religious monuments in the occupied territories".
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