The Maghoki-Attori Mosque
The Maghoki-Attori Mosque is one of the most incredible and impressive architectural masterpieces located in downtown Bukhara. Believed to be the oldest surviving mosque in Central Asia, it was built in the 9th century – following the Arab conquest of the region – on the remains of Zoroastrian and Buddhist temples.
The mosque’s name signifies “Pit of herbalists” and is derived from a herb-and-spice bazaar, which used to be located in its vicinity. According to legend, the mosque survived the Mongol invasion by being buried by locals in sand.
The Maghoki-Attari Mosque is said to have been used by Jews as a synagogue until the 16th century. According to one version, it was used simultaneously by both Muslims and Jews who offered their prayers in different parts of the building. According to other accounts, Jews used it as a prayer site in the evenings.
The mosque was excavated and restored several times in the 12th, 16th and 20th centuries and is a mixture of the architectural styles of different epochs.
It is located six meters below the current level of the city. As a result of the cultural layers, which accumulated through centuries, its facade sank deep into the soil and was unearthed as a result of excavations carried out in the 1930s. At present the mosque’s building functions as a museum of carpets which opened there in 1991.
The Maghoki-Attari Mosque was listed by UNESCO as one of the World Heritage Sites.