Nowadays, our world is full of extremities and contradictions, and as a result, it’s getting more and more difficult for whatever we see, hear, or read to surprise us. Yet, I try to do so now. Probably, I won't be mistaken if I claim that when we are talking about contradictions, the first thoughts of most of us are about different religions. It’s fair to say that the two most powerful creeds, Christianity and Islam, serve us a bunch of themes for thinking. So does one of the most unique sanctuaries in Europe, the Mosque of Pasha Gazi Kasim. This mosque, which is actually not even a mosque, is the pride and a true symbol of a sparkling Hungarian city, Pécs. Its uniqueness lies in its incredible history and the fact that this Catholic mosque wears both a cross and a crescent at the same time.
But how is that even possible, you might ask? Well, as I implied above, the Mosque of Pasha Gazi Kasim, which today is the main operating Catholic church for the region’s Christian community, has a very long history. Originally, its predecessor was built in the first half of the 13th century as a Christian sanctuary. However, with the rise of the notorious and feared Ottoman Empire, the Hungarian Kingdom was one of its many victims in the Middle Ages. After the Turks occupied almost half of the Kingdom, Pécs was forced to have an Islamic sanctuary. In order to achieve that, Pasha Gazi Kasim of Buda had the Catholic church rebuilt during the 1560s. The main shape of the edifice was formed at that time, and it has remained similar today.
Owing to the fact that the Mosque survived the Hungarians’ and Habsburgs’ mutual liberating battles against the Ottomans in a relatively unspoiled condition, it was not reasoned to be destroyed and for a brand-new Catholic church to be constructed. Though the real cause for the typical Islamic crescent to remain on the church, besides the cross, is vague. Negligence? I don’t think so. A symbol never to forget? Maybe. I’d rather say, it was an act of gentleness and a thoughtful message to arise the understanding of equality in people. Either way, the sight of the two religious symbols at a single building, is a very grateful subject for photography.
It was not only the famous Islamic crescent, from the mosque, that was kept for the posterity. The main walls and the formation, as well as many other elements of the Mosque, were reused later on. One of such curiosities is that the current fonts of the Holy Water in the church were replaced from the former Turkish bath, that had been situated right next to the Mosque. Considering these factors, and the former Ottoman Empire’s expansion line, it’s not surprising that the Mosque of Pasha Gazi Kasim is the northernmost mosque of its age that remained intact.
So, if I managed to surprise you a bit by the fact that a cross and a crescent can get on well with each other on a Catholic mosque, come and visit Pécs, Hungary’s fifth biggest city, full of sparkling life, history and culture. In Pécs, you can also find yourself in a true chocolate paradise, if you arrive at the right time, and why wouldn't you kill two birds with one stone, right?
Did you like the travel story?
Get more! Subscribe to our monthly inspiration newsletter.