So tomorrow is my last day in Tetovo.  Yesterday my fellow teacher Besa took me on a walk around the old town of Tetovo.  We went to several places that I had visited in the past, most importantly for me, the Colored Mosque.  There are so many beautiful old buildings in Tetovo, including the Turkish tekke or Muslim monastery that I have also written about, associated with the Bektashi sect, one of the ancient mystical sects of Islam.  The first mosque on this site was probably guild in 1495, but this is the Balkans and land has slipped back and forth during wars. In 1833 the mosque was rebuilt by Abdurrahman Pasha, the son of Rexhep Pasha.  Now maybe you are asking what is a Pasha and the answer is a Pasha is a title for landlords and generals in the Ottoman Empire.  This Mosque was build next to the Shkuma river, where there were other buildings of Islamic origin including a bath that is now open as an art gallery.

The eight-sided mausoleum to two sisters, Hurshide and Mensure, is in excellent condition and reminded me of the rather emptier tombs of Arthur and Gweneviere at Glastonbery. Upstairs there was a woman with spectacles on teaching children to read the Koran. The walls were clearly influenced by the French Rococo movement. That’s right. The interior of this Ottoman Mosque was painted with swirling baskets of flowers The amazing mixture of French painting style, including the domed ceiling’s miniature buildings and towns, was such a message of the fact that this town, like the Balkans in general, has been a synthesis of so many cultures, both European and Eastern.  The geometrical and floral elements are meant to convey the notion of wealth and luxury, while the smallness of the mosque convey a very different message, of coziness, like a dollhouse at Versailles. The Mihrab, whre the Iman leads the prayer, was particularly beautifully carved.  Work was going forward on the parterres of the courtyard, yet another combination of European cultures.

The single classical minaret allows one to see the Colored Mosque in Tetovo from all over the city.  I am so glad that I visited it again as I wondered where Abdurrahman Pasha, son of Rexhep Pasha, got the ideas for his amazing interior with its yellow and red flower baskets cascading off the walls of this beautiful and welcoming sacred place.

Merrilee Cunningham, WITS Writer to the Balkans
[photo of Colored Mosque from balkantravellers.com]

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No Responses to “A Walk in Old Tetovo”

  1. Michael Abbott

    I am a library media specialist at Gregg ES in HISD; how does one include a school in the WITS program?

    Regards,

    MAbbott

    Reply

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