Two-minaret cathedral Mosque, situated in the center of Semey, Abay str. 50, is one of the most beautiful architectural monuments of republican status in the city. It was built in 1856-1862 and considered to be an example of the cult Muslim architecture of the XIX century. The picture and description of the mosque were in the album of data on the major mosques, published in 1914, devoted to the 300th anniversary of the Romanov dynasty. This magnificent construction was built on the site of an earlier burnt wooden mosque, and funded by Tatar merchants Khalitov, Suleimenov, Abdeshev, Rafikov. Design features of Turkish mosques were taken as a basis for the project design.
A letter of Semey Muslims’ request to build a new mosque on the place of the old burnt is kept in St. Petersburg State Historical Archive. In particular, it is written that "the new mosque would be the religious center which will decorate the city". Initially the minarets of the mosque were made of wood, but in 1897 the merchant Vasily Halitov replaced them with brick at his own expense and thus renewed the mosque.
Multiple mentions about the mosque in the memoirs and letters of famous people who had visited the city are preserved, so, in 1864 the ethnographer Zavalishin in his book "Description of Western Siberia" wrote: "Semipalatinsk is built very beautifully and well, it is absolutely Asian, (here), seven mosques, one of them is a stone cathedral, with two minarets".
Old-timers and local ethnographers have quite a few legends and stories associated with this architectural monument, according to one of them, there are secret underground tunnels that connected the house to the mosque mullahs under the floor of the mosque, as legend has it, a unique library of mullahs and religious books are also hidden there. The tunnel can be located at a depth of five meters, and its length is supposedly more than 50 meters.
The legends are the legends, but the Mosque is a really beautiful and impressive architectural structure, high quality building materials, skilful masonry walls, interesting design solution - all created glory and uniqueness of this building.
The building of the mosque is a rectangular construction with a dome and two minarets. According to the plan, its dimensions are16,5x32,5 m, the height of about 30 m, including the minarets, the volume is more than 7 thousand c.m. (without basement). The facade of the mosque is decorated with ornate half-columns with molded capitals. The windows are framed artfully. A plaster cornice passes along the perimeter of the building. The interior of the mosque is decorated with columns and horizontal rods. Yellow and green colored painting with sayings from the Koran is around the perimeter of the cupola.
There are 14 windows in the mosque, they are in the form of rectangles combined with a semi-circle. Window frames, repeating the pattern of a small dome, are above the door. The leading role in the exterior of the building is played by two minarets located at the corners of the main hall in the portal section. There are the doors leading from the hall to the minarets, walking through them, people can mount the spiral staircase leading to the upper platform, enliven with narrow lancet windows. Both minarets are topped with gilded crescents. All the building of the mosque is finished with embossed decorative belts around the perimeter, from the ground to the cornices. The portal room with three doors on a high porch is completed with an onion dome. The basement of the mosque is divided into four equal compartments, each of which has two doors, they have the role of warehouses, farm buildings.
The mosque was closed during the Soviet system, but the building was protected as an architectural monument. In 1971-75 restoration work was done here by the team of scientific restoration and maintenance association of the Ministry of Culture of the Kazakh SSR. Since 1975, the mosque became an exhibition hall. Only in 1995, on the eve of the 150th anniversary of Abay, the mosque was given to the believers, and from this time onwards it is used for its intended purpose. In 2002, an elaborate repair of the building was made with support of the akimat, local entrepreneurs and the public.
27 million Tenge was allocated for the restoration of the mosque under the state program "Cultural Heritage" in 2007. Professionals of the Republican State Enterprise (RSE) "Kazrestavratsiya" (Kyzylorda) were engaged in the repair work. Central Mosque became the second mosque, renovated under the state program "Cultural heritage".