The Larger Minaret


The main northern façade of the mosque was adjoined by the arched portal of the entrance and a tall tower known as the Larger Minaret. This very building is connected with the first in Russian history legal act aimed at the protection of architectural structures of the bygone ages: a Decree of Peter I on the necessity of restoration and study of the monuments of the ancient Bolgar. At the time of the Persian campaign, in 1722, the Emperor personally visited the Boulgar ruins, which aroused his keen interest. As early as being in Astrakhan, on 2 July 1722, the Emperor sent his personal decree to the Kazan Governor, A.P. Saltykov, requesting “in the Kazan Province, on the ancient Bolgar site, to repair the foundation of the stone building having two pillars that are called bell-towers in Tatar”. The Larger Minaret was repaired, but did not preserve until our days (collapsed in 1841). Not long before its collapse, it was observed by E. Turnerelli, an English scientist. The Minaret is well known thanks to the measurement drawings of the 19th century. It represented a 24-metres-tall volume consisting of the upper small and lower large cylinders. The main body of the lower cylinder passed at the bottom through the octagonal tier into the square foundation of 5x5 m. Inside the minaret, leading to the upper cylindrical tier with the roundabout gallery, was a winding stairs that was lit through six small windows. Unlike the Smaller Minaret that also survived in Bolgar, the Larger Minaret was twice as high and had, at medium height of the façade, a carved inscription in Arabic, a sentence from the Koran. The monument was studied through archaeological excavations in 1892, 1915, 1946 and in 1964 – 1966. The Minaret in its original scope was restored in 2000 – 2002. In 2011 – 2012, the work was done to reconstruct the small cylinder of the minaret with the decoration of the arched decorative window openings, the replacement of the cover for brass plates, and the installation of a carved door.


Last updated: Apr, 12, 2013, 9:59
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