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170 Ottoman monuments remain in Bulgarian capitol

Once among the administrative centers of the Ottoman Empire, Sofia was adorned with monuments. When the empire withdrew from the region, it left behind 170 monuments including 32 mosques, 8 schools, 15 dervish lodges, 3 hospices, 2 mausoleums, 13 inns and 7 caravansaries. Among the most important monuments carrying the vestiges of the past is the Banyabasi Mosque, The Kadi Seyfullah Efendi Mosque is the only mosque currently open for religious prayers in the city. Due to an agreememnt signed by the Turkish and Bulgarian Culture Ministries, the mosque will undergo renovation with the support of the Turkish International Cooperation and Development Agency (TIKA). Besides the mosque are the remains of a bathhouse built in the 16th century. On Fridays approximately 1000 people attend the Friday prayer. Another monument found in the center of Sofia is the Mahmutpasa Mosque. Begun during the period when Fatih Sultan Mehmet’s grand vizier Mahmut Pasa was the governor of Rumeli, the construction of the mosque was completed in 1494. The largest mosque during the period, it was known among the people as “Ulu Mosque.” Built as a complex with a school, aqueduct and fountains, the Mahmutpasa Mosque is now used as a mosque.

The Governor’s Palace built near the Mahmutpasa Mosque served as the administrative headquarters of the Rumeli governors. It was the location from which Bulgary was administered following the Turkish-Russian War. It is currently an archaeological museum.

The Dervish, or Sofu Mehemet Pasa Mosque is one of the three remaining mosques in Sofia after five centuries of Ottoman rule. The only monument known to belong to the famous Ottoman civil engineer Mimar Sinan, the mosque is referred to among the people as the “Black Mosque.” Constructed as a complex with 16 school rooms, it was used as a prison and an ammunition storehouse. The Black Mosque has been used as a church since 1903.

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