Šerena Džamija Mosque

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September, 2019

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Whilst staying in North Macedonia’s capital “Skopje”:https://www.silvertraveladvisor.com/review/attraction/203391-review-sightseeing-in-skopje-part-1-the-old-town, we took a trip out to the Matka Canyon in the morning. Afterwards we drove to Tetovo, 40-minutes away, to visit Šerena Džamija, which means coloured or painted mosque.

We walked through the gate and beautiful flower-filled gardens with fountain. We’d been told the mosque’s exterior resembled a pack of playing cards and it didn’t disappoint.
We were surprised that the mosque didn’t have the usual distinctive exterior dome and later read that this was because the style was early Constantinople Ottoman Architecture. It was originally built in 1495 at a time when the construction of most mosques was financed by sultans, beys or pashas. However, Šerena Džamija was sponsored by two sisters, Hurshida and Mensure from Tetovo, and as with many mosques, a hammam was built nearby across the river. The mosque was later reconstructed in 1838 by Abdurrahman Pasha, a great art enthusiast and lover of the town of Tetovo. And then in 1991, the local Islamic Community built walls around the mosque in the typical classical Ottoman style. The paintings around the exterior were renovated in 2010 with a grant from the US and the façade reconstructed and preserved the following year.

At the mosque’s entrance, a kindly, elderly man suggested that we remove our shoes, and indicated to me to cover my head with my trusty travel scarf.

Once inside we asked if we could take photographs and he pointed to a donation box. We got our money out and were debating an appropriate amount, when he signalled that a 10 Denar note was sufficient. As this was the equivalent of 15p, we put in two notes and then had no qualms about snapping away.

Unlike the traditional Ottoman ceramic tile decorations in mosques, the Šarena Džamija has bright floral paintings and its said that more than 30,000 eggs were used to prepare the paint and glaze that went into the elaborate decorations.

The walls were covered in geometric and floral designs, but around the top was a frieze of various buildings and landscapes which was interesting, but there was no one to ask for more information. Later we discovered that this includes a depiction of Mecca, which is thought to the only illustrated example of the shrine in southeast Europe.
Whilst looking round, another elderly gentleman asked where we were from. We suspect he was hoping to find we were German, as he told us in halting English, he worked there for 25 years.

Before leaving, we walked around the outside and found the octagonal “türbe” housing the resting place of the founding sisters.

You Tube “video”:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MjLhXbQgGas.

Helen Jackson

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