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Sultan Murat mosque and Clock Tower, Skopje

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The oldest mosque in all the Balkans

Built in 1436, it is the oldest mosque on the territory of the Balcan peninsula, constructed as a debt of Sultan Murat II , the father of the famous  Mehmed the Conqueror. Because of the Sultan donation, this mosque is known among the people lake hunkar (hjunkjar) or noble, sultan mosque. The construction is built on the top of Virginov hill, on the foundations of the ancient christian centre in Skopje, the monastery of St. Gjorji Gorg (Skoropostoznik).

In its long history, this mosque twice had suffered from fires, the second time when Skopje was burned by the Austrian general Picolomini in 1689. After the two fires the mosque had been rebuilt from sultans who were ruling at the time.

Because of the reparations and the rebuilding, it can’t be confirmed for sure its original look, but it is assumed that it was similar to the two mosques built under the patronage of Sultan Murat II, in Izmir and Bursa. The present mosque is built of stones and bricks with mural in bursan style. The inside space arrangement resembles to the three side christian basilica – the space is divided in three parts with archways with three pillars connected between with arches. At the northwest side of the church is risen a porch formed of a covering construction carried by four pillars connected between with arches. In the yard of the mosque there are two tombs (turbe), and together with the Clock Tower they are part of this complex. 

The Clock Tower is located at the north part of the complex. About this tower many travelers who were passing by this territory were telling stories. They were describing it as one of the biggest and prettiest city clocks built at the time. It is considered the first clock tower built at the Ottoman Empire, and as its pedestal was used one of the towers at the bulwarks of the ancient monastery St.Gjorgji, also known as Virginski.

The mosque wasn’t saved from the big earthquake on 26th of July 1963, when were ruined the two crypts, the madrasah, the Clock Tower and the retaining wall of the west side. There were big damages on the porch, the walls were cracked, and the minaret was partly ruined. In the years after the earthquake were made many preservations and the minaret was rebuilt.

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