The predecessor of the Kalon minaret was built back in the 11th century and was partly made of wood. During the siege of Bukhara, it was burned down and replaced by another building, which collapsed due to foundation lack.

Construction of minaret kalon

The Poi-Kalon ensemble consists of the highest minaret of the city: Kalon minaret (12th century), the active Kalon Mosque (16th century), the active Miri-Arab Madrassah (16th century) and Amir Alim-khan Madrassah. 

The construction of the Kalon minaret was entrusted to the architect Usto Bako, who worked with great responsibility. He first laid a 10-meter foundation and left it to stand for two years. Legend says that he left Bukhara for that time so that no one could force him to continue his work before the schedule. Only after that, he completed the building.

Bukhara, view to minaret Kalyan
View to Kalon Minaret from the Kalon Mosque. Poi-Kalon Complex

According to another legend, Bako was dissatisfied with the construction and have denounced that this minaret would also collapse. However, Bako’s concern was unfounded: the minaret had survived nine centuries of wars and natural disasters. During the conquest of Bukhara by the Bolsheviks in 1920, the minaret was damaged by warning shots.

The minaret has a typical structure of Central Asia and Iran. It is the steep round tower that narrows towards the top. The base diameter is more than 10 metres. The entrance to the minaret is from the roof of Kalon Mosque by a small bridge. Inside, a spiral staircase with 105 steps leads to the top.

The tower was built from fired bricks. The minaret is decorated with strips of different geometric patterns. There are 14 such bands in total, with different heights and motifs. The entire decoration was formed uniquely by brickwork. The exception is one band in the upper part: glazed terracotta in shades of blue were used there. Kalon Minaret is one of the earliest buildings of Bukhara, where the glaze was used.

functions of minaret kalon

The minaret had several functions: apart from the classical task of calling to prayer, it served as a watchtower. Due to its size, it also served as a lighthouse, visible from a distance, showing the way to caravans during the Silk Road.

Although the minaret is located next to a functioning mosque, it is no longer used for its intended purpose but is just an architectural monument of Bukhara.

Architectural monuments in Bukhara

Outskirts of Bukhara

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