The mosques of Ottoman Athens

While it is not quite clear when exactly the Fethiye Mosque in Athens was constructed, it is believed that its design was a basis for the designs of many of Istanbul’s prestigious mosques, including Sultanahmet.

The mosques of Ottoman Athens

Omer Aymali / World Bulletin / History

According to Ottoman sources, Athens, otherwise known as the ‘city of wisdom’, was conquered by Sultan Mehmet II in the year 1458. Following the conquest, Turks who settled in the city built many mosques, markets and public baths, turning it into a typical Ottoman city. Thus it remained with Turks and Greeks living side-by-side for 371 years until Greece declared its independence.

In 1669, Evliya Celebi, a famous Ottoman scholar, arrived in the city. In his travelogue he recorded that there were eleven mosques, one madrasah, three schools, two inns and three public baths. One of the mosques was the famous Parthenon Temple, which was turned into a mosque and had a minaret built on its side.

The Parthenon Mosque, which was partially used as an ammunitions base, was seriously damaged in an attack by the Venetians in 1687. Due to the extent of the damage, the building was not rebuilt, but instead it had another smaller mosque built beside it. This mosque unfortunately no longer exists today as it was razed to return the site to its ancient layout after Greece became independent. Three other main mosques were also destroyed in this period.

Parthenon Mosque

However, the Mustafa Agha Mosque, which was built in the 1700s, still stands today. Although it was left abandoned to decay after the war of independence, it has recently been restored and is being used as an art museum.

Another mosque that has survived up until today is the Fethiye Mosque, which was built by Omer Pasha, an Ottoman minister, to commemorate Sultan Mehmet II’s conquest of the city during his visit to Athens. The mosque was built upon the remains of an old church that used to be on the site, but due to the missing foundation stone and no mention of a date in Evliya Celebi’s travelogue, the construction date is unknown.

Mustafa Agha Mosque as a museum

It was the most important mosque for Muslims in the area until 1687, when occupying Venetian forces turned it into a Catholic Cathedral. However, upon the re-conquest of the city by the Ottomans, it was transformed back into a mosque which continued to serve as such until 1824.

In 1824 it was turned into a depot, and then later into the city’s prison. Before 1890, it was recorded that it was also used as a flour warehouse. Until 1935 the Greeks used it as a bakery for their army.

Today, Athens is the only European capital city without a mosque, but Turkey is leading the campaign to reopen the Fethiye Mosque to serve the Muslims living in Athens.

Last Mod: 12 Aralık 2013, 12:27
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