Kok-Gumbaz Mosque

In 1435 in Dorut-Tillavat that stands opposite Shamsiddin Kulol Mausoleum there was constructed Kok-Gumbaz Mosque – the biggest cathedral Friday mosque in Shakhrisabz. The inscription on the portal announces that themosque was constructed by Ulugbek on behalf of his father Shakhruh.

Kok-Gumbaz Mosque was built on the foundation of pre-Mongol construction. It is interesting that while building the mosque the architects adhered to the original layout of the ancient construction. Adjacent to the mosque there once were summer galleries. Of them survived are the bases of square pylons that supported arches overlapped with numerous small domes. Thick pylons of the eastern portal were decorated with ornamental patterns, whereas its tympanum (semi-circular decorative wall surface over an entrance) was covered with mosaic girikh star pattern typical of Ulugbek’s times. On the portal there survived an inscription in Arabic script: “This cathedral mosque on elevation is the most splendid… it has a big dome. This dome stands out in Shakhrisabz as blue sky above the green city”. In the pylons of the main portal there were built winding stairs leading to the roof. The tower-guldasta resembling a small minaret flanks the buttresses of the pylons. Its lower part is faced with marble whereas its top is crowned by a capital covered with majolica. The northern and southern facades have open passageways which lerad inside the mosque.

The building of the mosque is crowned by a huge dome covered with blue ceramic tiles. Hence the name of the mosque – Kok Gumbaz which means “Blue Dome” A Kufic inscription containing the ayats (verses) from Qur’anic sura “Victory”. Above this inscription there runs a blue band with terracotta ornaments against which another inscription is laid with white glazed tiles: “Sovereignty belongs to Allah, wealth belongs to Allah”.

The internal space of Kok-Gumbaz Mosque is nearly square in its layout and has four deep niches carefully oriented to the cardinal points. A mihrab (indication of the direction of Mecca) is set in the western niche filled with ganch stalactites. The whole wall surface was covered with ganch stucco and painted with intricate dark and light blue ornaments.

For centuries, Kok-Gumbaz Mosque was the principal cathedral mosque of Shakhrisabz. As early as Ulugbek’s time, to the east from the mosque there appeared a mazar (cemertery) where were buried the nobility and clergy from Barlas clan which the Temurids belonged to. Here, on the marble tombs one can find the names of military leaders who took part in the campaigns of Shakhruh and Ulugbek.

Dorut-Tillavat architectural complex makes an indelible impression carrying you back to the magnificent historical past ofShakhrisabz.