The Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Skopje is an impressive building with overwhelming beauty. Built by Mustafa Pasha in 1492, vizier on the court of Sultan Selim I, the mosque is still largely intact today. It is beautifully decorated, so it makes sense it’s considered to be the most beautiful mosque in the Balkans.
A bit of history
So this mosque was built in 1492 in honour of Mustafa Pasha. He was the vizier for all sultans during Ottoman times in Macedonia. He built it on top of the foundations of a medieval church, which has been a very common practice throughout the history of Macedonia. For example, Christians built their basilicas, and later some churches and monasteries, on top of Roman temples. Mustafa Pasha made sure to install a marble plaque above the entrance not only to indicate the year of construction but also to inform about this fact. During the heavy earthquake that struck Skopje in 1963, the mosque suffered some damage but luckily, the mosque was restored.
What makes it so beautiful?
All around the world, the Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Skopje is celebrated for its beauty. It’s considered the most beautiful mosque in the Balkans. Some even consider it to be the most beautiful mosque in Europe (although the majority of people says Istanbul takes the cake). Anyway, something about this mosque is special which is why I decided to see it for myself.
The first thing I noticed is the painted portico. You see, the inside of the domes has been painted with a unique design, which is why a visitor’s first impression is already a great one. The outside, in general, is also stunning; that’s because it’s old ánd authentic, typical for early Constantinople architecture. Take a look for yourself.
If you wish to go inside, you definitely should, don’t forget to take your shoes off! It is very rude to enter a mosque with shoes which is why you absolutely can’t do so. Upon entering the mosque, a large praying area welcomes you. Pasha decorated the interior of the Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Skopje in colourful arabesques of blue and red. You can find the Mihrab in the southeastern corner, which is the closest to Mecca and is faced in the direction of the Kaaba. The monumental dome that covers the mosque is 16.3 metres in diameter and is decorated with blue paintings.
Where can you find the Mustafa Pasha Mosque in Skopje?
The mosque is located in the centre of Skopje, on just a short walk from the Old Bazaar, the Old Stone Bridge and the Skopje Fortress. You can’t miss it since it’s built on top of a plateau that rises above the city. It’s actually visible from almost everywhere on the Old Bazaar. Oh, and the mosque complex also contains the tomb of Mustafa Pasha, the stone sarcophagus of his daughter Umi, a water fountain, and a rose garden.
I had a blast visiting this place and I’m sure you’ll love it too. Do you want to know more about the Old Bazaar in general? Read this article!