Hazreti Hizir Mosque, Samarkand
High above the road to Tashkent that leads away from Samarkand's main bazaar area you will see the pillared portico of the Kharzret Khyzr Mosque. A 19th century building, it has both an interesting appearance and an equally interesting legend attached to it.
This is the Traveller's mosque - Khyzr is the patron of travellers, but they must pay him due regard before he will grant them his protection. This belief predates Islam by many centuries and is a clear case of old beliefs being absorbed and reworked into those that came later.
Access to the mosque seems to be a bit problematical - as it is for many mosques here in Uzbekistan -sometimes they're open to non-Muslims, sometimes they're not. It also seems to depend on your guide if you have one - some are quite open to the suggestion of visiting mosques and churches whilst others are not so keen - an indication perhaps of the state of flux about religion here generally in these post-Soviet days.
The iwan here is very lovely and its high position makes for a splendid view, so it is worth a visit, even if access to the prayer hall is not possible.
2009 updateThe road has been realigned since we were last in Samarkand. and now it no longer cuts right across the front of the mosque. Istead a park has been laid out, trees planted and a new, less steep, flight of stairs constructed. Last time we climbed up and sat under the iwan for a while as we couldn't go in; this time we just looked on from afar so I still don't know whether access is now possible, but I do know that getting a good photo is easier.
It was built on Afrosiyab Hill, on a crossroads. It is dedicated to Khazrat-Khizr, legendary Islamic holy and eternal wanderer, on the site of a pagan temple during the first years of acceptance of islam. This was the oldest mosque in Samarqand and around this city. The mosque that we can see nowadays was built on the base of the ancient mosque during XIXth century.
Hazreti Hizir mosque was built in the 18th century on the entrance to Samarkand. Hazreti Hizir (Saint Hizir) is very important for us "travellers" because we believe that he is the protector of travellers and he helps us in our desperate moments of our travels.Which I think that I ve met him in one of my travels in Germany...This is another story...
A must for any traveller as Khyzr is the patron of wayfarers and possesses the water of life.
However, he appears only to the devout who perform namaz bamdad prayers 40 Mondays in succession. This figure of legend predates Islam and this spot may have seen an ancient temple before the Arabs built the city’s first mosque here.
The present building, dating from the mid 19th century but reworked ever since, has an assymetrical composition of minaret, entrance lobby, indoor and outdoor premises. From under its beautiful wooden iwan, one can enjoy the view across the bazaar traffic to Bibi Khanum and east to Shah-i-Zinda.