Mangalia Mosque

Mangalia Mosque is the oldest mosque in Romania, being built in 1575 by Esmahan, the daughter of Ottoman sultan Selim II. Located in Mangalia, Constanţa County, it serves a community of 800 Muslim families, most of them of Turkish and Tatar ethnicity.

The seaside town of Mangalia is home to an important landmark left behind by Ottoman rule over the region, to wit the Esmahan Sultan Mosque, built in 1575. Esma Han, daughter of Sultan Selim II and wife of Sokollu Mehmed Pasha, was very fond of the region, and decreed that a mosque be built where Mangalia lies today. That place of worship was officially inaugurated in 1590, and is today surrounded by a 300 year-old cemetery among can be identified architectural fragments from buildings from ancient Greek colony of Callatis. Turkish dignitaries were buried here, and tombstones bear inscriptions in Old Arabic.

The mosque is a veritable museum. It was built in the Moorish style, using carved stone and bricks from an old Roman tomb. It differs from other Muslim places of worship in Dobruja (Dobrogea) in that the front entrance is surrounded by a veranda. The building stands 12 meters tall, and has 85 cm thick walls. It is relatively small by the usual mosque standards.

Mangalia Mosque is a historical monument. In the 1990s, local authorities renovated the building and surrounded it with a tall fence. The mosque was again renovated in 2008, with financial aid from a generous donation of 1 million euros made by a Turkish businessman. The roof was replaced, and the minaret was consolidated. The interior walls and the fountain in the yard were renovated. Its waters are once again used in the sacred ritual of washing the dead. The oldest mosque in Romania is once again a welcoming venue for believers and tourists alike.