#50 Mosque of Suleiman

Location

In a ideal location, the district Lakka, on the outskirts of Konitsa to Aoos River is located the ruined Mosque Sultan Suleiman. The mosque was built in the 16th century by Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. According to tradition, the mosque was built in the place that was the church of St. John the Baptist (Agios Ioannis of Prodromos). However, to date there are no findings that confirm this tradition.

 

Construction Data

"This is a single-room building, without any significant morphological features. This fact does not "enhance'' the viewpoint that it was founded by the famous-in that era- Sultan Souleiman."

The mosque is supplemented by a hexagonal Muslim Tomb (turbe) as well as a two-storey building.

In 1971, it came under the competent Curators of Antiquities. They gradually proceeded to repair the monument and the surrounding area, cemended the Minaret, fixed the corners of the external sides of the building as well as some small sections of the walls inside the building, which had been destroyed. The arched stone lintels of the windows were also cemented.

In the southwest corner of the square praying space, an all most intact minaret stands. The dome of the mosque that has now fallen, was placed on spherical triangles that where shaped by the four corners of the space. Two very big windows are open on each of the remaining sides of the building."

The mosque is supplemented by a hexagonal Muslim Tomb (turbe) as well as a two-storey building (22 B. Nitsiakos, Konitsa and its villages, Anatomy of culture, Prefecture of Ioannina, Ioannina 2008 p.84).

In 1971, it came under the competent Curators of Antiquities. They gradually proceeded to repair the monument and the surrounding area, cemented the Minaret, fixed the corners of the external sides of the building as well as some small sections of the walls inside the building, which had been destroyed. The arched stone lintels of the windows were also cemented.

 

Historical Data

In the 16th century, two large mosques were founded in Konitsa. The Chousein Siach's mosque or ''the mosque of the bazaar'', which was built near the central square and was destroyed in 1920, and the Soultan Souleiman's mosque, of which the ruins are preserved at the location of Lakka.

According to the Turkish traveller Evliya Celebi, the first one was built by Sultan Bayazid II, at the site where the Church of Saint Cosmas is located today.

The second one, which is called Souleiman's mosque, is the only one that is still preserved today. It was built in 1540 at an ideal location above the town. According to tradition, the mosque is located at the site where the church of St. John the Baptist was in the past. Historian An. Efthimiou, relying on the oral tradition of the residents of Konitsa, which is very rich, describes the Ottomans' desperate attempts to build the mosque on top of the ruins of the old church. ''The Turks threw the image of the saint (of John the Baptist) in Aoos, but the other day it was found on the buildings. The Turks threw it away again into Aoos, but it appeared again on the wall of the mosque. This was repeated several times. In addition, another paradox occurred: the dome of the mosque could not be fixed steadily and it was constantly collapsing. So, the Turks were forced to build the wall with the image inside it and the structure was stabilized.

At times, different opinions have been expressed with regards to those who built the Sultan mosque. Its founder is probably Sultan Suleiman I the Magnificent (1520-1566), who arrived in Epirus, after conquering the mountainous Albania, in 1536.

 

Additional information of historical, cultural and tourism interest

Konitsa during recent years has become one of the most attractive destinations for Greek and foreign travelers, since apart from hosting countless activities, it also has numerous places of historical, cultural, civil and natural interest.

From the Early Christian and Byzantine period (4th century AD - 1430), some of the monuments preserved are, the castle (14th century), the church of the Red Panagia (late 13th century) in the Konitsa field, the temple of St. Nikolaos (14th century), the temple of St. Dimitrios (11th century) and the Monasteries of Theotokos (14th century) and of Metamorfosi Sotiros (1305) in Kleidonia. From the Ottoman period (1430-1913) remain, the temple of St .Apostles (1791), the Muslim mosque of Suleiman (16th century) the cathedral of St. Nikolas (1842), the residence of Hamko (18th century), the residence of Sisko (1845), the temple of St. Apostles (1537), the temple of St. Athanasios (1617) and the chapel of Neo-Martyr George, with 120 pictures made from Chioniadites painters.

An introduction to the town's traditional architecture can be done in Upper Konitsa, where most of the mansions and housing estates, built during the Ottoman period, can be found. In the area there are more than 50 preserved buildings, from which the ones standing out are, the Husein Bey Sisko, the Hamko residential estate, the Mpekiareiko, the Floreiko, the Papadiamantis residence, the Schinias residence, the Voudasis residence, the Housious residence, and others.

One of the trademark attractions of the region is undoubtedly the large singe arched bridge of Konitsa, which imposes at the edge of the settlement, in the Aoos gorge. The infamous bridge was built in 1870 by chief mason Zioga Frontzo form Pirsogianni and its dimensions are 20 x 40. It is a true monument of architectural heritage that one ought's to visit on his way to Konitsa.

One can also encounter great monuments of historical and cultural heritage, in the villages around Konitsa, like the "Kleidi" and "Mpoila" rock shelters that host findings indicating the existence of human presence in the region since the Late Stone Age, and the "Megalakkos" cave.

In the Kleidonia village, which is located on the outskirts of the Konitsa plain, at a distance of 14km from the town, the visitor is advised to visit the homonymous bridge, the temple of the Metemorfosis tou Sotiros, and the Monastery of St. Anargiroi.

The bridge of Kleidoniavista or Voidomati, is a single arched bridge situated on the banks of Voidomatis River, and connects Zagori with Konitsa. It was built in 1853 and was funded (37000 grosz) by the benefactor Mpalkiz Hanoum of Malik Pasha. The bridge's name was derived from the almost abandoned mountainous village of Kleidoniavista (Upper Kleidonia). It is a single arched bridge, with 20m span and 9,15m height, while its deck is cobbled (paved in a kalnterimi style)

Mpourazani is located approximately 12 km from Konitsa. Mpourazani is not a village, but an area subjected to the Aidonochori community, with rich natural environment and remarkable touristic growth over the last years.

In the region we can find the base of the Mpourazani Environmental Park, which spreads over an area of 1200 acres. It contains rich vegetation and is home to various species of wild animals, like deer, wild boars, and wild goats. In addition the village there is an operational Museum of Natural History

At the point where Aoos meets the Nemertsika foothills, we encounter the Monastery of Koimiseos of Theotokou Molivdoskepastis. According to tradition, it was built by Emperor Konstantinos Pogonatos in the 7th century AD and derived its name from the led plates that used to cover its central temple. From the 12th until the 17th century the Monastery was the seat of the Pogonianis Archdiocese, while from the 14th century it operated as a chirographer school. In July 1943 it was bombed by the occupation armies, resulting to the destruction of the cells and the diner. The central byzantine rhythm temple of the Monastery together with its wood carved templon, are particularly interesting.

At the end of the route through the Lakka Aoou villages, we find Distrato, which is built below the Gomara summit (alt. 2126m) of Vasilitsa. There are three neighborhoods (machalades) in Distrato: The Machalitsio (Lower machalas), where byzantine and roman/ancient tombs were discovered, the Middle machalas and the Upper machalas (machlelou nti tziana).

Approaching the infamous Mastorochoria villages, we make our first stop in Pirsogianni, which is built amphitheatrically on the slopes of Mount Steno at 860m. While walking on its graphic alleys we can admire the mansions and elaborate stone constructs, most of which were built in 1750.In Pirsogianni we also find the National Museum of Epirotes Masons.

The Vikos-Aoos National Park is one of the areas included in Natura 2000 network and since 2005 in the National Park of Northern Pindos. The Park is distributed between the municipalities of Konitsa, Central Zagoria and Timfi, as well as the Papigo community. Its total area reaches 13.000 hectares and includes the Aoos ravine to the north, the Vikos and Voidomatis gorges to the south, as well as a large section of the Timfi mountain range.

Nature lovers and alternative activities enthusiasts will find their paradise on earth, in Konitsa. Hiking, climbing, and all sorts of mountain and river activities are automatically connected with the town's name, because in addition to being a town of historical significance, in recent years it has evolved to an unofficial "capital" of alternative touristic activities in the Prefecture of Ioannina.