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Published on Sep 11, 2010
The first Bahá'í House of Worship was built in the city of 'Ishqábád, then ruled by Russia and now the capital of Turkmenistan. It was started in 1902 and completed in 1908. The design was prepared by Ostad Ali-Akbar Banna, and the construction was supervised by Vakílu'd-Dawlih, later named one of the nineteen Apostles of Bahá'u'lláh.
'Ishqábád is located in the desert plain of western Turkmenistan near the foothills of the Alborz Mountains. Under the protection and freedom given by the Russian authorities, the number of Bahá'ís there rose to over 1,000 and for the first time anywhere in the world a true Bahá'í community was established, with its own schools, medical facilities, cemetery, etc. Eventually the Bahá'ís in 'Ishqábád decided to build the institution of the spiritual and social heart of the Bahá'í community: the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár.
The House of Worship itself was surrounded by gardens. At the four corners of the garden were four buildings: a school, a hostel where travelling Bahá'ís were entertained, a small hospital, and a building for groundskeepers. The Bahá'ís lived as much as possible in proximity to the House of Worship. It was the centre of the community materially, as well as spiritually. The House of Worship in 'Ishqábád has been the only house of worship thus far to have the humanitarian subsidiaries associated with the institution built along side it.
After serving the community for two decades, the House of Worship was expropriated by the Soviet authorities in 1928 and leased back to the Bahá'ís. This lasted until 1938, when it was fully secularized by the communist government and turned into an art gallery. The 1948 Ashgabat earthquake seriously damaged the building and rendered it unsafe; the heavy rains of the following years weakened the structure, and it was demolished in 1963 and the site converted into a public park. ( Source : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bah%C3%A... )