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© Almazoff / Shutterstock

Hilvet Semi-Underground Mosque

Within the grounds of the mausoleum is the cell where Khoja Ahmed Yasawi would retire to write in isolation.

In the grounds around the Mausoleum of Khoja Ahmed Yasawi are the remains of many other buildings, a reminder that this was once a citadel in the northeastern corner of an ancient town. Among the mausoleums, mosques, and bath houses, one of the most important buildings here is the Hilvet Semi-Underground Mosque.

Embedded beneath the soil, the mosque was constructed in the 12th century. It was here that Khoja Ahmed Yasawi chose to preach, write, and teach the Sufi religion when he lived here. Just imagine the era of devotion and prosperity when he was here, where learning and teaching was of the highest value. Under the earth, poetry would echo in prayer and spoken words would be transferred to script.

The mosque was hand dug by Yasawi himself, with stairs leading below a modest dome. Inside you will see wooden pillars illuminated by skylight and Sufism exhibits on display. It's easy to see why he would retire here to practice his faith, worship, and write. On this sacred ground Khoja Ahmed Yasawi spoke to the world. His mosque is humble but his storied history reminds us of how great a man he was.


Hilvet Semi-Underground Mosque