ISTANBUL – The first underground mosque has been constructed in Turkey’s Buyukcekmece district in Istanbul, the building that has won the first place in the World Architecture Fest competition for religious places.
"Mosques are places to contemplate and pray,” Mehmet Narin, the Mufti of Buyukcekmece, told the World Bulletin on Monday, November 4.
“They are branches of the Kaaba,” he added.
Merging the essence of Islamic and ottoman designs with modernity, Sancaklar Mosque was inspired by Cave of Hira, where Prophet Muhammad (Peace upon him) first received prophecy.
Built seven meters beneath the surface, the Mosque was constructed by the Turkish architect Emre Arolat.
The mosque, located on 1200 square meters under the ground, is enlightened by lead lanes and sunshine to cast a spiritual environment.
Departing from standard mosque designs, the Sancaklar Mosque features a cavernous underground worship hall imbued with a special spiritual reverence.
The architects note in their brief that their design “aims to address the fundamental issues of designing a mosque by distancing itself from the current architectural discussions based on form and focusing solely on the essence of religious space.”
It has been under construction since May 2011 and is scheduled to be opened during the coming weeks.
Offering a place for more than 650 worshippers, the mosque aims to void the shortage of mosques in the district.
"Due to the lack of mosques here in the Karaagac neighborhood, this one is needed," the Mufti, Narin, added.
“This district is filled with villas but there was no mosque.”
Being the world’s first underground mosque, the Sancaklar Mosque was designed without a minaret or a crescent.
Approximately 99 percent of Turkey's population is Muslim, the majority of whom are Sunni.
Turkey has thousands of mosques, the most famous of which are Blue Mosque, which is marked with its blue tile work ornamenting its interior walls.
In May 2012, the world’s first underwater mosque was built in north-western city of Tabuk in Saudi Arabia.
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