Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church (Sofia)



Description of Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church

Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church was originally constructed as a mosque in 1528 during reign of Suleiman the Magnificent. New Muslim prayer house was constructed on a site of a former convent of the Rila Monastery. It is a square structure with a dome covered by lead. The Black Mosque as it was known at the time was credited to a famous Turksih architect Mimar Sinan who constructed numerous buildings in the capital of the Ottoman Turkish Empire, but this claim is somewhat uncertain. After Bulgaria gained its independence after Russo- Turkish War the mosque was transformed into Bulgarian Orthodox Church by design of A.N.Pomerantsev in 1901.


The 25 m-long mosque had a square shape and a large lead-covered dome. The mosque was initially known as the Koca Mehmed Pasha Mosque after Mehmed-paša Sokolović. Another name was the İmaret Mosque after the imaret, a kitchen for the poor located in the vicinity, the ruins of which were found in 1912. A madrasah, a Muslim religious school, was located in what is now the small garden between the modern church and the Count Ignatiev School. The madrasah was later used as a prison after the Liberation of Bulgaria. Other Ottoman constructions nearby included a caravanserai and a hammam.



The building was built in 1528 by Sinan as a mosque on the orders of Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent on a property of the Rila Monastery with a monastery. Excavations in 1901 revealed the remains of an ancient Christian temple from the sixth-sixth centuries and an even older sanctuary of Asclepius.

The mosque was named Koja dervish Mehmed Pasha in the name of the great vizier Sokollu Mehmed Pasha. The mosque is believed to be the famous Sinan (the architect of the Suleiman Mosque in Constantinople). The temple became known as the Black Mosque because of the dark granite from which its minaret was made. In the 19th century, the mosque's minaret fell and was abandoned.

After the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878, the building was converted into a military warehouse and later to a prison.

Between 1901 and 1903 the building was rebuilt into a church, which was consecrated on July 27, 1903, designated by the Bulgarian Orthodox Church as the Assumption Day of St. Clement of Ohrid and the Day of St. Seven Wizards - St. Saints Cyril and Methodius and their students and followers Clement, Naum, Ok, Owl, and Angelarium. This day is also celebrated as a temple feast. During the reconstruction, the black granite minaret and the madrasah located on the site of today's garden in front of the church were demolished and the corner domes, bell tower and narthex were completed. The reconstruction project is of the architects Yordan Milanov and Petko Momchilov.

The iconostasis in the church is the work of Debar masters of the Filipov family. The royal doors and the crucifix cross were cut in 1902 by Avram Avramov and Peter Yosifov.

In the courtyard of the church, next to his wife, was buried Petko Karavelov - one of the leaders of the Liberal Party and later of the Democratic Party. He is the brother of the writer Lyuben Karavelov and the father of Laura Karavelova - the wife of the poet Yavorov. Their grave is located behind the church.