Sungur Chaush-Bey Mosque – one of the oldest mosques in the Balkans (demolished in 1956)

bitola panorama od hajdar kadi dzamija

Featured photo: Panorama of Bitola city photographed from the minaret of the Hajdar Kadi mosque in 1915. In the foreground is the Wood Bazaar (later called Sheep Bazaar) and in the background is Sungur Chaush Mosque that does not exist today. Further in the background are the Clock Tower and the mosques Isak (right) and Yeni (left). [1]

The first mosque in Bitola was built by Sungur Chaush-Bay in 1434/35. Together with Hadzi Kam (1420) mosque in Skopje, they were one of the oldest mosques in the Balkans (Both nonexistent today). Located on the left bank of the River Dragor near the Sheep Bazaar (Овчи пазар)*, the mosque was also known as “Eski”, “Atik” or “Solak” mosque. Some historians associate with it the very beginnings of the Old Bazaar, since shops, inn and market were built around it.

Sungur Chaush-bey was one of the military commanders of the Sultan Murat II, who as Christian boy was born in Bitola region, and later taken to Istanbul as Devshirme (blood tax)*. According to the Turkish historian, Major Mehmed Tefik (History of the Bitola Vilayet) [2] returning from the war against Skender Bey, Sungur Chaush Bey liked the position of Bitola and asked the Sultan Murat II to allow him to settle there. His desire was approved, and one of his first initiatives in the city was the complete restoration of the old mosque, which was actually an old church converted into a mosque after the Turkish conquest of the city. In his honor, the mosque was called the Sungur Chaush-Bey Mosque.

sungur caus beg dzamija
Sungur Chaush Bey mosque [3]
The Sungur Chaush Bey mosque was demolished in 1956. During its demolition, a stone slab was found on which in Cyrillic letters is written the name Bitola (Bitola plate / Bitola inscription displayed in the permanent exhibition at the NI Institute and Museum Bitola). The plaque was created during the restoration of the Bitola fortress by Tsar Ivan Vladislav (1016-1017) and on it, among other things, writes: “With the help of the prayers of St. Mary and with the help of the 12 apostles, the city of Bitola is being restored.” This plaque was placed in a prominent place in the fortress above the city, in which there was also a cathedral church. [4]

Bitola inscription – NI Institute and museum Bitola [5]
* Present location opposite the trade center “Javor” on the left side of the street Filip II Makedonski.

** Devshirme (blood tax or tribute in blood) was chiefly the practice where by the Ottoman Empire sent military officers to take Christian boys, ages 8 to 18, from their families in Eastern and Southeastern Europe in order that they be raised to serve the state. This tax of sons was imposed only on the Christian subjects of the empire, in the villages of the Balkans and Anatolia. Wikipedia…

[1] Димче Најдов „Битола низ стари разгледници“
[2] Мехмед Тефик напишал повеќе историски книги, а една од нив е „Историја на Битолскиот вилает“, објавена 1911 година во Битола, по повод посетата на султанот Мехмед Решад V. Кога книгата била објавена Мехмед Тевфик бил директор на Воената гимназија во Битола.
[3] Роберт Михајловски “Градот Битола / Манаст’р по османлиското освојување во 1385”
[4] Гордана Филиповска-Лазаровска “ЕДЕН МИЛЕНИУМ БИТОЛА”

[5] НУ Завод и музеј Битола