Mosques in Kircali Bulgaria
In all the Bulgarian villages of Kardzhali Bulgaria you can see the tower of the Mosque standing up proud on the skyline. Each evening you can hear the prayers echoing out throughout the village.
Recently a couple of Mosques have been fined in Kircaali for being too noisy, although it is quite nice to hear the sound of their prayers.
During the time of Bulgarian Communism, the Turkish Muslim community were not permitted to practice their Muslim faith, the Turks were not allowed to speak Turkish either and, had to adopt Bulgarian names.
The Turkish Bulgarian Muslims who did not wish to conform to these requests, were free to migrate back to Turkey and many locals from the Kircali region emigrated to Turkey.
This resulted in many local villages becoming completely abandoned and some stand abandoned to this day.
Obviously once communism fell, the Turkish Muslims who wished to return to their motherland of Bulgaria and their Bulgarian homes, have encounted difficulties because of their dual names on the various documents. Some of the returning Muslims have succeeded in reclaiming their former family homes.
During World War II there was also the issue with the new border put up by the Greeks, overnight cutting Turkish families off from their family forever.
The southern Bulgarian mountain range was mined, preventing Turkish Muslim families from reuniting with their estranged families for decades.
In recent years, this border was reopened and on my first visit to the ‘other side’, I was sadened by the sight of the first Mosque on Greek soil and the first grave I saw was of a man who had lived to 96 years old and had passed away just a couple of months before the border opened. He had not lived long enough to be reunited with his estranged family.
In a more recent Bulgarian census, many Bulgarian Turkish Muslims declined to give their religious status and marked the census forms as ‘no religion’, even in today’s time of freedom of status, this group of people are still concerned and remember well that they just might have to adopt Bulgarian names and only be able to speak Bulgarian and not their ‘mother tongue’ Turkish.
Although I have lived among these very peaceful locals for more than 7 years now, I have found the Turkish language that they speak to be very difficult to learn and, by comparison to how much Bulgarian I have picked up along the way, I know only a handful of Turkish words!
Practically no English is spoken in this region, so it is quite imperitive to be able to speak at least one of the local languages, Turkish or Bulgarian, whichever you find easiest.
I have found the Bulgarian Turkish Muslims to be quite similar to the Bhuddist people I encountered in Thailand. They are peaceful and love nothing more than to welcome an outsider into their homes and to feed them. I have been invited to all their large celebrations, such as their Bayran celebrations. I am not a Muslim and have been welcomed in to every Bulgarian Turkish Muslim home with open arms and an offering of chocolate or other sweet as I enter.
It is common practice for Muslims to remove their shoes on entry to any home and to leave the shoes on the front door step. Here are some of the Mosques I have photographed.
Plans are underway to build the largest Mosque in Karcali main town, currently there are disputes with neighbouring land owners, but the project should be under way pretty soon.
Kardzhali has the largest Turkish Muslim community in all of Bulgaria.
More Mosque photos coming soon