Banya Bashi Mosque (Sofia)

Banya Bashi Mosque


Description of Banya Bashi Mosque

Banya Bashi Mosque was constructed in Sofia in 1576 on the site of the ancient baths. Bulgarian word for baths is "banya" thus it gave this mosque its name. It was designed by famous architect Mimar Haji Sinani. The building is shaped like a cube and crowned by a large dome with a tall minaret standing next to it. The inferior of the mosque is decorated with colourful ornaments and sayings from the Koran or Quran. Muslims are not allowed to portray animals or humans so you will not see their depictions here. It is an open and acting mosque.


Construction of Banya Bashi Mosque was completed in 1576, during the years the Ottomans had control of the city. 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, diameter 15m, and the minaret. 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.



The mosque's main building is quadrangular. Among the four corner cubes are the central cubes and the minaret. In front of it there is an annex (tetim) with three small cubes. It was built in memory of the late wife of Qad Seyfulllah Effendi.

Bashi mosque bath is an interesting architectural creation that reflects the specifics of Ottoman architectural thought in the 16th century. It was built by the Ottoman architect Sinan. Its walls are made of carved stone and bricks, with rows of red bricks placed between the stone rows. At the four corners, as in the Makbul Ibrahim Pasha mosque in Razgrad, small towers are erected, under which support structures are lowered through hoops. At the corners of the sixteen beam hoops are placed double breastplates. The walls of the prayer hall and the arches are of stone. The columns are made of a single stone body and are matte. Crowns are double rows of stalacmid. The arch above the front door, which ends with a wreath, is also a stone. The central dome is covered with lead plates. The minaret of the mosque is an exquisite architectural work. According to Evliya Chelebi, she is not equal in beauty in Sofia.

The interior of the mosque has acquired its present appearance as a result of several repairs. The last major overhaul was made in the 1920s with the financial support of Turkish Ambassador to Sofia Fethi Bay. Partial repairs, painting, plastering, etc. were made after World War II. In 1983, a complete restoration of the mosque exterior was carried out, designed by arch. Chr. Ganchev from the National Institute for Cultural Monuments. In recent decades, repairs have been made with donations of Turkish and Arabic waqfs. With their support, an underfloor heating system was built.

The present state of the Banya Bashi mosque gives it the possibility of praying with about 700 Muslims on Friday days and nearly 1,200 Muslims in the Bayrams. The capacity of the mosque is between 500-700 people. That is why during the holidays and Friday prayers, the worshipers pray outside the sidewalk. In the past, the mosques of Efendi Qadi Seifulllah and Emin Dede were buried around the mosque.