Building Name – Bahá’í House of Worship-Ashgabat
Location – Ashgabat, Turkmenistan
Architect – Ustad Ali-Akbar Banna Yazdi, Contractor-Vakílu’d-Dawlih
Year of Start – 1902
Year of End – 1908
- All Bahá’í Houses of Worship, including the Temple of Australia, share certain architectural elements, some of which are specified by Bahá’í scripture. `Abdu’l-Bahá, the son of the founder of the religion, stipulated that an essential architectural character of a House of Worship is a nine sided circular shape. While all current Bahá’í Houses of Worship have a dome. Bahá’í scripture also states that no pictures, statues or images be displayed within the House of Worship and no pulpits or altars be incorporated as an architectural feature.
- When Ashgabat was under Russian rule, the number of Bahá’ís in the city rose to over 1,000, and a Bahá’í community was established, with its own schools, medical facilities and cemetery.
- The House of Worship itself was surrounded by gardens, with four buildings at the four corners of the gardens: a school, a hostel where travelling Bahá’ís were entertained, a small hospital, and a building for groundskeepers.
- An American Bahá’í architect, Charles Mason Remey, visited the Temple in 1909 and described it in detail.
- Located in the center of the city and visible from a great distance, the Temple had three sections: a central rotunda; an ambulatory surrounding it; and two series of exterior loggia, upper and lower, surrounding the entire building and opening onto the gardens.
- The rotunda was five stories high and topped by a hemispherical steel dome. A gallery was located directly above the ambulatory.
- Light from windows on the upper levels filled the interior. The exterior loggia on the first level could be reached both from the interior and exterior of the building.
- A pair of staircases on either side of the main entrance—a two-story portico surrounded by minarets, reminiscent of the Taj Mahal—provided access to the upper loggia.
- The interior of the dome was elaborately decorated with fretwork designs in relief.
- The third story contained plaques inscribed with a calligraphic representation of the invocation “O Glory of the All-Glorious” (referred to by Bahá’ís as “the Greatest Name”).
- Under the Soviet policy towards religion, the Bahá’ís, strictly adhering to their principle of obedience to legal government, abandoned these properties in 1928. For the decade from 1938 to 1948, when it was seriously damaged by the earthquake, it was an art gallery. It was demolished in 1963.
- The site was later turned into a public park in which stands a statue of the eighteenth-century Turkmen poet Mahtum Quli (Magtim Guli).