Siniq qala mosque

The Siniq qala mosque or Mohammed mosque and minaret in Baku is one of the most significant examples of Islamic architecture in terms of its structure. Mosque was built by local dignitary Muhammad Abubakr oglu from 1078-79. As the city mayor, he was both the originator of the project and sponsor of its construction. Thus the mosque was named Muhammad after him.


One of the minarets of Mohammed mosque was damaged during a marine expedition by Russian Tsar Peter the Great to the Old City, which is why the mosque was also called Siniqqala (translates as Broken Tower).

Until the early 20th century, Muhammad Siniq qala mosque was a single-level mosque and had a relatively small capacity. When the two buildings either side of it were cleared, a lower level emerged. The initial appearance of the minaret and mosque proper was restored. Making full use of the large area available for the mosque, the architect had created a unique two-level structure with a high minaret. The ground floor presented a rectangular room with a door opening to the northern façade and two small windows. Archaeological items recovered from a well there indicate construction in the late antique or early medieval period.

The building adheres to one of the main principles of Shirvan and Absheron architecture: harmony between the inside and outside of the structure. Despite the relatively small dimensions, the architect did not finish the building as a single, whole unit. On the contrary, cashing in on the building’s functionality, he attempted to create a dynamic space. The compositional expression of the Muhammad mosque creates the impression of plasticity and harmony with the exterior. The logical but sporadic sequencing of architectural detail, as well as the fact that masonry work was completed with semi-dressed stone, creates an interesting effect of light and shade in the interior.

Muhammad Siniq qala mosque is located in a busy part of the Old City. The numerous archaeological excavations conducted in and around the site over the years have revealed a number of other material and cultural items: wells, ovens and hearths. Most of the findings are attributed to periods from the 9th-17th centuries. They include pitchers, jugs, earthenware pots, lamps, water cans, polychrome and monochrome plates and bowls etc.

The Muhammad mosque has therefore had an indispensable role in studies of the ancient history of Baku.

Source: Visions of Azerbaijan magazine

Siniq qala mosque
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