The Sveti Sedmochislenitsi Church is a Bulgarian Orthodox church in Sofia, Bulgaria. It was created between 1901 and 1902 through the conversion of an abandoned Ottoman mosque, and was inaugurated in 1903. The church is named after Cyril and Methodius and their five disciples, known in the Orthodox Church collectively as the Sedmochislenitsi.
The so-called Black Mosque (Turkish: Kara Camii) was built in 1528 on the order of Suleiman the Magnificent with the intention to be more impressive and beautiful than the Christian churches in the city. The mosque is popularly attributed to the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan, although this is uncertain. It was constructed at the place of a former nunnery of the Rila Monastery and an Early Christian temple from the 4th-5th century, the ruins of which were excavated in 1901. An even older construction, a pagan temple of Asclepius from Roman Serdica, was also discovered in the mosque’s foundations.
The mosque was initially known as the Koca Mehmed Pasha Mosque after Mehmed-paša Sokolović. A madrasah, a Muslim religious school, was located in what is now the small garden between the modern church and the Count Ignatiev School. The madrasah was later used as a prison after the Liberation of Bulgaria. Other Ottoman constructions nearby included a caravanserai and a hammam. The mosque received its more popular name, the Black Mosque, after the dark granite from which its minaret was made. The minaret collapsed during an earthquake in the 19th century and the mosque was abandoned by the Ottomans after the Liberation of Bulgaria in 1878 to become used as a military warehouse and prison.
The architect who suggested the conversion of the once Ottoman mosque into a Christian church was the Alexander Pomerantsev. The Bulgarian architects Yordan Milanov and Petko Momchilov designed the dome, the narthex and the bell tower in a traditional Bulgarian style, inspired by the movement of Romanticism. Only the central hall and the dome of the former mosque were preserved, with four oval bays, a narthex and an altar section being added. (x)
Illuminations from the Vienna Dioscorides, a Byzantine illuminated manuscript of De Materia Medica from c. 512. In the first image is a portrayal of the Byzantine Princess Anicia Juliana