The culture in eastern Europe – especially in the southeastern part – is strongly influenced by Islam. Bulgaria has the largest Muslim population percentage within the European Union, at 10 to 13 percent, although some 370,000 Muslims were expelled here toward Turkey shortly before the collapse of state socialism after its ‘Bulgarization’ failed.
We visit the Tombul Mosque in Shumen. Until the political change in 1989/90, the largest mosque in Bulgaria and the second largest mosque in the Balkan Peninsula served as a museum. Today, people pray here again and teach in the attached schools. In Shumen, 30 to 35 percent of the population are Muslims.
We are greeted very warmly at the Tombul Mosque and are allowed to visit the prayer room and the courtyard. The complex is small but beautiful. Unfortunately, we can hardly communicate with words, so that a conversation is impossible. At the end we buy two Misbaha as souvenirs before we continue our tour through the north of Bulgaria.
Text: Tobias Schwessinger
Photos: Christian Faludi