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The mosque in Vidin

3703 Kaleto, Vidin



This important cultural landmark is linked to the name of one of the most colorful personalities in the history of Vidin. According to Irechek and Balan, Osman Pazvantoglu is an ethnic Bosniak, likely descended from Islamicized bogomils. And Rakovski directly states that he is a Bulgarian at birth, with ties to the hajduk movement and a conspirator against the sultan’s state. Today there’s even talk of a family relation between Pazvantoglu and the Shishman dynasty. Opinions of the personality of the separatist janissary are incredibly contradictory.
From a power-hungry tyrant who tore territories off the empire with the ambition to rule them alone, through a cruel warlord capable of burning women and children alive, just to spread fear among the populace, to a tolerant governor who gave equal civil rights to the Christians, patron of science and culture, and a noble man capable of deep feelings at the memory of his father and towards his unrequited love. Because of these contradictions and the many layers of Pazvantoglu’s character, to this day there isn’t a consensus on what does the Heart Mosque symbolize (it is called that because instead of a crescent moon, the dome of the library and the top of the minaret feature a spade, an upside-down heart) – whether it’s reverence for the memory of his father, who was cut down, or it’s pride and honor at the peak on top of the janissary flag under which he served, or arrogant rejection of the empire’s power and celebration of one’s sovereignty, or the hidden, unspoken and unrequited love for a Bulgarian girl. From the people’s viewpoint, Osman Pazvantoglu was a typical blood-sucker – son of a janissary line, with evidence saying he used to be a Kardzhalian chieftain. At the end of the 18th and the beginning of the 19th century the Kardzhalians movement was at the height of its glory.
The Kardzhalians, albeit brigands who terrorized the empire and Rumelia in particular, were a well organised, militarized and seriously armed corps of 25,000 people with a hierarchy and experienced commanders at the head of different units. The Kardzhalians made a living and amassed a fantastic fortune solely off of the civilian populace, while the central power basically proved incapable to stop them. At the end of the 18th century Pazvantoglu bought off the right to collect the jizya – an additional tax on the non-Muslim population of the empire. Soon after, along with other rebels – Arnauts, Kardzhalians, janissaries and a few displeased Aghas – he took over the sanjak of Vidin and split it off the state of sultan Selim III, so that they can do all that only to their own advantage and for their own expense. On the other hand, the definitely incredibly talented politician and commander Osman Pazvantoglu is remembered a wise and tolerant governor, who cared about the entire population, not just the Muslims, and didn’t stop the free expression of the Bulgarians’ national and Christian identity. The most remarkable monument from his time is the mosque with the nearby library. The mosque is a massive stone building with strictly oriental architecture and a roof covered with Turkish tiles. Construction was finished between 1801 and 1802; it is a singlestory building but leaves the impression that it has two stories. The prayer hall of the mosque measures 13.65 by 10.45 meters.
The antechamber is an open arcade with five large arches that shape the building’s facade. The entrance is highlighted by a stone cornice. Windows on the walls are in two rows with six on each side. The main door of the mosque has beautiful carvings whose design and details are reminiscent of the decoration in sultan Selim III’s saray – something that wasn’t found anywhere else in Bulgarian lands at that time. The wood carvings are very close to the ornaments of the late French baroque, which speaks of seeping foreign influence. It is believed to be the work of Bulgarian masters from Debarsko in Macedonia. The minaret has a stylized spade at the top. Pazvantoglu dedicated the mosque to his father Yomer Pazvantoglu, cut down in Vidin at the sultan’s order. The antechamber is shaped like an open gallery. The prayer hall is large and decorated with a wooden ceiling and a carved wooden rosette. There is a balcony meant for the women. There’s evidence that there used to be another building, likely housing a madrasa (school) or zawiyah (small Musilm sanctuary). The library is a stone square building covered by a dome made out of lead metal sheets.
The students have to visit the place in order to learn more the story of Osman Pazvantoglu.

Baba Vida (Grandmother Vida) - Vidin, northwestern Bulgaria





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This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This web site reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.