This building is truly unique. It survived many events in its history, changed shape, form and purpose. It seems that the site, located between trade domes and pond which later became known as Lyab-i Khauz, has always attracted attention of the townspeople.
The purpose of use of this site in ancient times is not known yet chronicles narrate that even before the Arab conquer there had been a bazaar of brisk trade of spices, herbs and medical potions.
Once, on the site of “Magoki Attory Mosque”, there used to be a religious place of the heathen — “Moon Tample”.
Narshakhi, a historian, in one of his later works state that in 10th century there had already been a mosque called “magok” which is translated as “in a pit”. It got its name due to the location in 4.5 meters depth because of growth of cultural layers.
Archeological dig carried out by V.Shishkin in 1940-s made it possible to remove almost all thousand years old growth and reveal authentic view of the mosque. As the result, it became know that the first mosque on this place was built in 9th century and its facade was decorated with carvings and wall-paintings.
In 12th century the mosque was rebuilt. The general plan was preserved yet due to the surrounding layers the entrance had to be made from the south which is quite untraditional. Till present, only a portal remained from the original building, its upper part was completely lost. Till 16th century the mosque was considered one of a quarter of town.
The view of Magoki Attory Mosque we see today, it got during reconstruction in 16th century, reminding of which is inscribed on the arch of the new portal. Despite its monochromism, it is interesting in its decoration – it is possible to enjoy its flowery small details and “laced” ornament of carved alabaster, mosaic, majolica and terracotta for hours.
There is an opinion that “Underground Mosque” had been a place for prayers both for Muslims and Jew before the first synagogue was built in the town. There are several opinions about how this could have been arranged. According to one of them, the prayers were made in different corners of the mosque, according to another – Jews were praying after Muslim prayers had been finished. It is supposed that exactly this event lead to a custom to finish a prayer with a phrase “Shalom Aleykum” – “Piece to you all” which is used only by Jews of Bukhara.
If Bukhara and its old town is recommended for travelers who wish to see the true Oriental antiquity, Magoki Attory Mosque is an authentic pearl of ancient times which had appeared in pre-Muslim period, a prayed-in place and unique historic landmark, preserved till nowadays by literally gaining its second birth from the centuries-old fetters of the ground.