Built by the Ottomans in the 16th century, the former Pasha Qasim Mosque still dominates Széchenyi Square in the centre of Pécs. This mosque was one of the main symbols of the city, favoured by its position on an elevated point of the city centre. The famous Turkish traveller Evliya Çelebi referred to its majesty as he passed through Pécs in the 17th century. Two centuries after its construction, the Christians took the city back, which resulted in the conversion of the mosque into today's Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The church retains many elements that testify to its Islamic past, such as its arc windows, the dome, a modified mihrab (semi-circular niche indicating the direction of Mecca) and some frescoes with Quran inscriptions. Other elements, such as the minaret, were removed during its conversion into a Christian building.
History is full of examples of temples converted to serve another religion. Here are 4 Christian places of worship that were important mosques in the past. Did you know them all?
This example is widely known worldwide. Although this is not the only major Spanish cathedral that was converted from a mosque, it is the one that has best preserved its Islamic elements, retaining to this day an appearance closer to a mosque than to a Catholic temple. The sight of its 1300 marble columns supported by 365 horseshoe arches painted in white and red is breathtaking. As a curiosity, the builders of Abd al-Rahman I, the founder of the mosque, reused many Roman and Visigothic capitals. The mosque was enlarged several times throughout its history to become the second largest mosque after Mecca and without a doubt the most important mosque in Spain. In 1238, after the Christian reconquest of Al-Andalus, the building was consecrated as a church. The major addition to serving as a cathedral was the Renaissance nave and transept in the centre of the square structure of the building.
Mértola is well-known in Portugal for having preserved significant Islamic heritage remains. A close look at the Church of Our Lady of the Annunciation reveals the Muslim past of this town, once part of the Islamic kingdom of Al-Andalus. It is not known for certain when the original building was erected, but there is no doubt that it was originally a mosque, as evidenced by the remains of its mihrab/major altar and four doors with horseshoe arches. In the 13th century, after the Christian reconquest of the territory, the mosque was transformed into a Catholic church. The minaret was removed sometime between the 16th and 17th centuries to make way for the present-day bell tower. The
Greece is full of churches that functioned as mosques under Ottoman rule. However, the Church of St Nicholas is the only one to retain a minaret. The church was founded in 1320 as a Catholic monastery church. When Crete was conquered by the Ottomans in 1645, the church was transformed into a mosque. In 1918, after the departure of the Turkish population from the island, the mosque was transformed into the Orthodox church of Agios Nikolaos. Instead of being demolished, the minaret has been restored, offering a rather unique sight, a church with a bell tower on one side and a minaret on the other.