Sofia is a city where many cultures meet, leading to a surprisingly diverse range of religions and beliefs coexisting, mostly peacefully, throughout history. This beautiful mosque is a key example of how Bulgaria has welcomed other cultures.
The exterior of the mosque stands out next to the standard European architecture around, set beside a pretty park and fountain.
Inside the mosque is no less impressive, with a much lighter and cheerful atmosphere than the more traditional, heavy feeling of the Christian churches nearby. The walls are a bright white, with geometric patterns in bright, block colours for decoration.
A kind woman who worked at the mosque offered to give us an introduction. She explained how muslims come to the mosque to pray, separated with the women on the mezzanine floor and the men below – both listening to the same Imam. We also learnt about Islam as a religion of peace and how their teachings shared many similarities with other religions we are more familiar with.
Visitors are more than welcome at the mosque, although women are required to wear a long, hooded robe (they have spares you can borrow) and, as with all religious buildings, you should be respectful.