The Manuchehr Mosque is located in the city of Ani, in Turkey, close to the Armenian border. Ani, known as the "city of one thousand and one churches", was the ancient capital of Armenia, now lies in ruins along the bank of the Arpa Cay river. This mosque, built on the plateau of the hill that slopes southeast towards the river, was commissioned in the late 11th century by Emir Manuchihr, the first of the Shaddadid dynasty to rule Ani. Nonetheless, there is still a controversy among historians surrounding the date and origins of the mosque. Scholars date the minaret to an earlier date, claiming that it was originally structured to accompany a pre-existing mosque.
The mosque is oriented ten degrees east of south. It consists of a rectangular three-aisled prayer hall divided by five originally free-standing columns into ten compartments and an octagonal minaret adjoining its northeast wall. The dimensions of the mosque are approximately eighteen and a half meters by fifteen and a half meters. A four-compartment crypt roofed with barrel vaults is built below the four southeastern compartments. The main entrance to the edifice faces northwest, while a secondary one facing north leads to the minaret.
Inside the mosque, ten polygonal vaults of various shapes decorated with geometrical patterns of multicolored tiles cover the prayer hall. These vaults are supported by squat columns with diamond-cut capitals and octagonal base supports, which connect in turn with semi-circular arches. The proportions of these columns resembles the proportions of the columns at the early 11th century monastery of Horomos.
Inside the minaret, a spiral staircase flanked by a central pillar leads to the top of the edifice. Inside the mosque, a balcony is attached to three of the four walls. Part of this balcony on the eastern side is sectioned off for the Khan's lodge and is accessed by a separate entrance on the eastern elevation. The mihrab niche is covered by a muqarnas semi-dome. Apart from the sixteen windows on the cylindrical base of the central dome, multiple windows also pierce the exterior walls of the mosque. The mosque is made out of cut stone and covered with plaster, while the domes are covered with lead.
Formerly, a royal family cemetery with tombs and graves of some of the Khans was located behind the qibla wall. Both the minarets have collapsed and been reconstructed several times. The last extensive restoration was conducted by the Russians in the late 1970s. The mosque initially functioned as a museum of archeology. In 1990, after the resettlement of the Crimean Tatars in the area and some additional restoration work, the museum was turned back into a mosque.
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