St. Sedmochislenitsi Church Sofia
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Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church

Attraction type: Temples
Address: 25 Graf Ignatiev Str., Sofia
Phone: 00359 2 9878023

Looking at the pretty church that stands in the middle of the park, it is not obvious that this was once a mosque. It’s current name is in reference to Sofia being liberated on the feast day of one of the Holy Seven Saints: Sveti Naum.

St. Sedmochislenitsi Church in Sofia was created in 1902 on base of an abandoned Ottoman mosque. Before the mosque at the same place there did exist a nunnery of the Rila Monastery and an Early Christian temple from the 4th-5th century, the ruins of which were excavated in 1901.

The 25 m-long mosque had a square shape and a large lead-covered dome. The mosque was initially known as the Koca Mehmed Pasha Mosque. The mosque received its more popular name, the Black Mosque, after the dark granite from which its minaret was made. The minaret collapsed during an earthquake in the 19th century and the mosque was abandoned by the Ottomans after the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878 to become used as a military warehouse and prison.

The architect who suggested the conversion of the once Ottoman mosque into a Christian church was the Russian Alexander Pomerantsev. The construction works took a year, between 27 May 1901 and 6 May 1902, but the complete inner decoration did not finish until 1996. Young artists painted the icons and among the first donors were Tsar Ferdinand and Ivan Evstratiev Geshov. Famous Bulgarian statesman Petko Karavelov also contributed significantly to the church’s construction and was buried nearby in January 1903.

The large candlesticks in front of the altar were cast in 1903 from obsolete police badges from Eastern Rumelia and the Principality of Bulgaria (i.e. before the Unification in 1885). An electric clock, still in use, was created by the noted watchmaker Georgi Hadzhinikolov and fit to the western façade in the 1930s. The small garden and the square close to the church were also built in the period.

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