Built over the foundation, its own and another’s, it stands powerful and unyielding in the centre of the city. For over five hundred years it covers the secrets of the past and for so many years it listens to the prayers for the future.
Christian and Muslim, mine and yours, common…Deep inside the foundations - a church, height up to the sky - a mosque. Blue and white in the interior, blue and white toward the sky.
Khadi Mehmed effendi Mosque or known as the Jeni Mosque was built in 1558/59. According to its appearance this mosque is one of the most impressive and maybe most valuable buildings in Bitola. With a minaret that is about 39m high, it rises up to the sky.
The massive wooden doors are the most dominant element at first sight. But when they open up, a different story will lay out in front of our eyes. The enclosed porch will welcome us with its calmness and whispers to us about thousands of believers that had spoken their prayers here. The second wooden door with a shallow carved decoration will lead us to the prayer space, to the mosque itself.
But our site will dance over the blue and white „faience” tiles. This unique faience decoration is made by faience tiles where each decoration is made on them instead of them. Every tile complements the previous creating a magical floral decoration.
The stone parts of the portal above the wooden door and the calligraphic inscription, tells their story. Only curiosity leads us further, to step through this door, and to discover new truths. Then in front of our eyes some other time is reflected.
The painted and “stucco” decorations talk about the time of prosperity of Bitola. The five-hundred-year old mobiliar absorbed thousands of prayers, heard thousands of wishes. But those wishes were not only Muslim, those wishes are Christian too, universal.
The vibrations of the voice and the prayers lead to the depth of the soul, and to the depth of the ground. Within, under the foundations of the present mosque there are the remains of three Christian churches. The oldest dates before 11th century, the second from the 11th century and the third one from the period between the 11th - 14th centuries. The centuries woven in life, the centuries braided in new and old, the present and past, but all that in a moment of “Everything”. All those things woven in the spiritual sensibility of the master, the artist and the visitor. Inspiration, art and the spirit of some other time, painted in the former churches, the past mosque or in today’s contemporary Gallery.
Text: Meri Stojanova
NI Institute and Museum Bitola