Hadzhi Mahmud Bey Mosque - Bitola
Hadzhi Mahmud Bey-Hadzhi Bey Mosque was built in 1521/22 by Hadzhi Bey, the governor of Bitola.
The mosque is a central building in today’s only partially preserved mosque complex in the old Bitola Bazaar, which included a school mekteb*, madrasa ** active until 1921 and a library.
The mosque is unique in two ways, according to the construction of the dome and the decorative way of building. In addition, it is obvious that with the many symbolic relief elements on the facade that contain many religious signs, this mosque, unlike Yeni and Isaac, was a mosque of the chosen and devoted – of priests who ascetically devoted themselves to the faith finding secret meanings of the Qur’an and of Sufi philosophy in general.
Located in the heart of the Bitola Bazaar, this mosque, not coincidentally, right here, it had an extremely important meaning, where the whole life took place and city’s dynamics.
It was also an educational home and an institution on its own. It was a place where philosophical, legal and educational key topics of life and existence similar to those in the Athenian agora in ancient Greece were discussed. She was a certain promoter of humanism and tolerance among the large and nationally diverse population of Bitola.
This mosque was also a place where the most important clerics and poets began to be educated, who often after that, went to Istanbul and became prominent figures in the capital and the Ottoman Empire in general. The place of this mosque was the main gathering place of the Turkish, Jewish, Macedonian population, regardless of the numerous synagogues and churches.
In fact, in this part of the city, thanks to this building, the Bitola cosmopolitanism began to develop, something that is extremely important today, in Europe and the world.
* Mekteb – the name of a school whose main purpose is to teach children the basics of the Islamic faith, way of life and behavior in society, basics of the Arabic alphabet and proper reading of the Qur’an.
** Madrasa (Arabic: “place of learning”) is an Islamic school that prepares future Muslim clerics.