The cemetery of Gazi Mihal Mosque in Edirne

The mosque was erected from cut stones and bricks. There are no visible ornamentations on its outside walls, but the interchanging layers of light grey stones and red bricks create a pleasant decorative effect. There are faint traces of a painted blue and yellow ornamentation on the inside of the dome over the entrance. The wooden doors are set in a marble frame, surmounted by a pointed arch. There is an inscription in Arabic script over the doors.

Architecturally, the building is an illustration of an axial-eyvan mosque kind. An eyvan is a characteristic element of the Islamic architecture. It is a rectangular room that has three walls and is open into the courtyard on one side. An eyvan usually serves as a monumental entrance to the sacred building.

The front of the Gazi Mihal Mosque there is a five-bayed porch. Its central and higher bay is covered with a large oval dome, and other bays have flat-topped cross vaults. The main prayer room has a square plan. It is covered with a larger semi-circular dome supported on pendentives.

Two flanking rooms, which used to serve as dervish bedrooms, are covered with smaller ribbed domes. Originally, these chambers could be accessed from the central hall but now it is only possible to access them from the outside. The mosque has a single minaret with one balcony, located on its eastern side.

At the mosque, there is an extensive external courtyard adorned with a wooden ablution fountain. The whole complex is surrounded by a stone wall, and the entrance to the mosque is through a gate. The mosque is located below the current ground level, so to get to the gate, it is necessary to go down the stairs.

There is a fascinating cemetery at the back of the building. It contains almost 400 tombstones, dating back to the period from the 15th to early 20th century, some of them unique in Edirne area. There is also a rich collection of Janisarry gravestones with börk headgears. Börk was an Ottoman-era military hat, very high, with a holding place in front, called the kaşıklık, for a spoon. It symbolised the “brotherhood of the spoon” – a sense of comradeship among the Janissaries who ate, slept, fought and died together.

The tombstones from Gazi Mihal Mosque cemetery can be divided into two main categories: female and male. The female gravestones are mainly decorated with floral motifs: roses, life trees, date fruit, and grapes. The male gravestones are adorned with the symbols referring to the job of the person buried, and thus they provide the detailed information about occupations in Ottoman empire for about 400 years.

Gazi Mihal Baths (tr. Gazi Mihal Hamam) is also known as Old Dilapidated Baths (tr. Eski Harap Hamam). It is situated on the opposite bank of the Tunca River, next to Şahmelek Mosque. It is the oldest Turkish bath in the city, but, unfortunately, it has been abandoned and is now falling into ruins. There is an inscription giving the date of its construction – 1406. The founder was Gazi Mihal, the same nobleman who ordered the construction of the mosque and the bridge nearby.

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