Banya bashi dzhamiya
Banya Bashi Mosque is a mosque in Sofia, Bulgaria. Its construction was completed in 1576, during the years the Ottomans had control of the capital. The mosque derives its name from the phrase Banya Bashi, which means many baths. The most outstanding feature of the Mosque is that it was actually built over natural thermal spas. One can even see the steam rising from vents in the ground near the Mosque walls. The Mosque is famous for its large dome and the minaret rising upward to the sky.
Dating from 1576, the mosque is said to have been designed by Hadzhi Mimar Sinan, the leading Ottoman architect, who also designed the Selim II Mosque in Edirne, Turkey It’s certainly an eye-catching edifice and the red brick minaret makes a convenient landmark. At the rear of the building is a small, recently excavated section of the bathhouse that once joined onto the mosque and a hot-water drinking fountain. The mosque fell into disuse during Communist rule but is now open for worship once again – you can hear the loudspeakers on the minaret calling the Muslims of the city to prayer five times a day. The mosque is not officially open as a tourist attraction but visitors are welcome outside prayer times, including women, if modestly dressed.
Currently the Banya Bashi Mosque is the only functioning mosque in Sofia, a remnant of the Ottoman rule of Bulgaria that lasted nearly five centuries, and is used by the city’s Muslim community of 8,614 out of 1,170,842