The mosque that was the most rapidly built in Russia, or how else is the “Heart of Chechnya” different?

10 September 2020


Do you know that there is a magnificent and inimitable mosque, one of the largest in the world, which was built in record time? Let’s have a closer look at it. We have collected for you 7 main peculiarities of the “Heart of Chechnya” mosque.


1. It is one of the largest mosques in the world


Towering over central Grozny, the capital of the Republic of Chechnya, there is the “Heart of Chechnya” mosque, one of the largest mosques in the world. Speaking about Russia, by size it is inferior only to the Moscow Cathedral Mosque and the Central Mosque of Makhachkala.


Covering 5 000 square meters, it can accommodate more than 10 000 worshippers. The mosque has 4 minarets, each 63 m high, while the massive central dome is 32 m high and 16 m in diameter. The blue dome is surrounded by four other semi-domes. The roof of complex shape is decorated with smaller domes; they rely on the tholobates with arched windows, from where sunlight penetrates the interior. The vault of the central dome is illuminated from the inside by scattered rays of bluish light, as a reminder that it symbolizes the sky.


The “Heart of Chechnya” mosque looks great from different angles. Its facades are decorated with light-brown travertine slabs and red-blue tiled ornaments, traditional in Chechen culture.


The “Heart of Chechnya” is adjoined by a vast square fenced with an arched colonnade that forms galleries covered with small domes. There are fountains for ablution here, which is obligatory before prayer. Marble benches are installed in arcade’s shade, where Muslims conduct pious talks, ponder and listen to Koran’s preachers.


2. It was built in record time


The grandiose building was constructed in almost two years. Initially, the idea to create such a mosque was conceived in the 90-s of last century by Akhmat Kadyrov. According to his idea, the mosque should have become a symbol of peace, but some difficult events in Chechnya put the project on ice for a long time.

Only in 2006, when the Chechen war ended, the first stone was laid. And already two years later, in 2008, the “Heart of Chechnya” opened its doors to the believers of the republic.


3. Chechen image of the Blue Mosque in Istanbul


The mosque was designed in the classical Ottoman style. The prototype of the “Heart of Chechnya” was probably the main architectural masterpiece of the Ottoman Empire - the world-famous Blue Mosque, which is located in Istanbul. It is not surprising because Turkish architects and designers worked on the mosque in Grozny.  


On the sides of the square building there are four 63-meter minarets, intercepted by circular balconies. Snow-white marble predominates in the interior decoration. It was brought from Turkey. Vaults support columns with elegant arches of white marble and red granite blocks, laid out one by one. On the light walls there are golden verses from the Quran, Arabic script is skillfully painted by masters of calligraphy. The upper section of the dome is adorned with a calligraphic rendering of Surah 112 from the Quran, which reads: “Allah is One and only, the Eternal God; He begot none nor was He begotten. None is equal to Him”. The marble floors are covered with handmade rugs.


4. Unique lighting


In Muslim religious buildings, special attention is paid to lighting. Thus, the mosque in Chechnya has three-level illumination: one flood-lighting is for the convenience of worshipers; another one is used to highlight particular architectural elements; and special festive lighting enhances the effect of the height of the dome and the minarets.


The interiors are illuminated by 36 chandeliers cast in bronze. The details of the chandeliers are gilded and decorated with crystals reminiscent of gemstones. The designers gave the chandeliers the outlines of the famous mosques in the Muslim world, located in Mecca, Medina and Jerusalem. And the largest central chandelier was inspired by Kaaba. Each chandelier weighs about 2.5 kg of pure gold and is decorated with Swarovski crystals.


5. “Infinite” mihrab


An integral part of any mosque is mihrab, or in other words, a prayer niche. It faces Mecca, indicating the direction for prayer. The Chechen mosque’s mihrab is of incredible proportions – more than 4 m wide and about 8 m high. The intersecting elements made of marble create the illusion of infinity.


6. Part of Grozny’s Islamic complex


The “Heart of Chechnya” mosque is not just a separate religious building, but also a part of the entire Islamic complex in Grozny, which is located on the bank of the Surzha River (a tributary of the Terek). The 14-hectare site is also home to the Kunta-Hadji Russian Islamic University, the Spiritual Board of Muslims of Chechnya, a picturesque park with fountains, a publishing house and a printing house, a hotel, a hall of residence for students and visiting pilgrims, as well as necessary infrastructure. The park is decorated with fountains. Beautiful lamps made of cast iron are installed in the alleys.


7. A symbol of Russia


In 2013, the “Heart of Chechnya” mosque took the second place in a public survey of the most popular visual symbols of Russia, beaten only by the Kolomna Kremlin.


Two years later, the government of the Gabonese Republic ordered a series of commemorative coins with the image of the “Heart of Chechnya” mosque and a portrait of Kadyrov, who the mosque is named after.



Ilmira Gafiyatullina

Photo: Creative Commons