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Tips for visiting the Tetovo Painted Mosque in Macedonia

March 14, 2024 No Comments

Nestled in the heart of Tetovo, North Macedonia, lies a vibrant gem – the Tetovo Painted Mosque, also known as Šarena Džamija (meaning “Decorated Mosque”). This architectural wonder isn’t your typical mosque. Unlike the austere elegance commonly associated with Islamic places of worship, the Painted Mosque explodes with a kaleidoscope of colours and intricate patterns.

The mosque’s story stretches back centuries. Built in 1438, it has undergone transformations over time. The current structure, boasting its signature adornments, is attributed to a reconstruction in 1833 by Abdurrahman Pasha, an art enthusiast who left his unique mark.

What I love about this mosque is that it was funded by two sisters- an unusual occurrence at the time!

Beyond the visual brilliance, the Painted Mosque serves as a testament to Tetovo’s rich cultural tapestry. The intricate details whisper stories of the city’s past, where diverse communities thrived and artistic influences intertwined.

Here are some tips to maximise your visit to the Tetovo Painted Mosque:

  1. Go Independently

Although you can visit the Tetovo Painted Mosque via an organised tour, unless I absolutely have to , I prefer to travel independently. Since Tetovo is so accessible, there is no need to pay for a tour (in my opinion).

There are two ways you can get to your destination:

Rent a car

This is the option I did because my friends and I rented a car and drove from Belgrade . From Skopje to the Tetovo Painted Mosque takes about 45 minutes and you spend the vast majority of the route on the highway. You will need around 120MKD for tolls (one way) but you can use a credit card for this.

If you rent a car, be aware that there is no demarcated parking near the mosque. You’ll need to drive around and park wherever you see a spot.

By Bus

Travelling by bus can be the most convenient way to go from Skopje to Tetovo if you don’t want to drive. Twice every hour, buses depart from the Skopje bus station and arrive at the Tetovo bus station. The bus travels to Tetovo in an hour if traffic is light.

The first bus to Tetovo leaves Skopje at 5.30am. The last bus to Tetovo departs Skopje at 9.30pm. Here is a timetable (but you’ll need to use Google Translate to assist you). The bus costs 200MKD one way.

From Tetovo Bus Station to the Tetovo Painted Mosque is around a 30 minute walk through the town. If you’re following your journey on Google Maps, it might be worth asking the driver to stop somewhere close by. In the Balkans, bus drivers are usually very accommodating especially to tourists/foreigners.

  1. Time your visit to avoid prayer times

Visit between 8am and 12pm or between 1:30pm and 3:30pm. These are generally outside of prayer times which is when you can enter the mosque. If you arrive and it’s prayer time, you can just wait outside until it’s over.

  1. Go up to the balcony

Step into the mosque’s narthex (porch) and be greeted by a visual symphony. The walls and ceiling are adorned with breathtaking floral and geometric motifs. Vivid greens, blues, reds, and gold intertwine, creating a sense of awe and wonder. This intricate artwork combines Ottoman and European influences, particularly the Italian Baroque style, making the mosque a true spectacle.

The mosque is quite small and can get crowded quickly if a tour bus arrives (although these people are usually in and out quickly). If this happens while you’re there, stop outside and look for the wooden door next to the shoe shelves. You’re allowed to ascend the stairs and head up into the balcony. Most people don’t think they can access it so you can have it to yourself for a while. A caretaker at the mosque assured us that we were allowed to go up the stairs.

WHAT ARE THE RATINGS ON PANDA’S RATING SCALE?

WHERE TO STAY when visiting The Painted Mosque ?

We stayed in Skopje. I strongly recommend Sunlight Apartment– a modern 2 bedroom apartment with an amazing host. The property has parking and is well located in the city centre.

LASTLY,
The Painted Mosque is more than just a stunning landmark; it’s a testament to Tetovo’s rich cultural heritage. It’s a place where Islamic traditions beautifully blend with artistic influences, creating a unique masterpiece that continues to captivate visitors. So, if you find yourself in North Macedonia, make sure to include this dazzling wonder on your itinerary.

Planning Your Visit:

The Painted Mosque is an unmissable sight for anyone visiting Tetovo. Here are two important pointers for your trip:

  • Dress modestly: As a place of worship, respectful attire is recommended which includes covering all parts of your body, Women must cover their hair. This mosque does not provide scarves or robes.
  • Wear shoes you can easily take off and put back on.
  • Etiquette: Be mindful of ongoing prayers and maintain silence within the prayer hall.

I visited the Tetovo Painted Mosque on the same day that I visited Duf Waterfall in Rotuše. You can read more about that here:

Hiking to Duf Waterfall in Macedonia

Serbia and Macedonia can easily be combined since they’re close to each other with similar visa policies. If you liked this post, you may also be interested in my Serbian content:

Visiting Golubac Fortress and Veliki Buk Waterfall (Serbia)

A Guide for visiting Subotica (Serbia)

Spending a weekend in Uvac Canyon (Serbia)

I also have a wealth of information on my Instagram. Do have a look. If you enjoyed this post about visiting the Tetovo Painted Mosque in Macedonia, please pin it using the pin below:

Have you considered visiting the Tetovo Painted Mosque in Macedonia? Or have I just put it on your list? Let me know in the comments below!

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