The Downtown Candlemas Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, formerly known as the Mosque of Pasha Qasim is a Roman Catholic church in Pécs. It was a mosque in the 16-17th century due to the Ottoman conquest. It is one of the symbols of the city, located in the downtown, on the Széchenyi square. The current building, hundred steps both its length and its width, was built by Pasha Qasim the Victorious between 1543 and 1546. The mosque was converted into a church in 1702, after the Habsburg-Hungarian troops liberated the city. The minaret was brought down by the Jesuits in 1766. It is still one of the largest Turkish buildings that remains in Hungary. It harbours the characteristics of Turkish architecture.
Standing at the highest point of Pécs's Széchenyi square, the mosque of pasha Qasim is the greatest example of Turkish architecture in Hungary. It was probably built in the second half of the 16th century. In the 1660s Evliya Çelebi, the famous Turkish traveller wrote of the overwhelming majesty of its view. A number of changes had been made on the building between the 18th and the 20th centuries. Its minaret was ultimately taken down but had been previously enlarged. Only the main square part remained of the original structure: the octagon drum, covered by a dome. There are arc windows in two rows on the façade of its south-eastern, south western and north-eastern part; 3-3 and 4-4 pieces. Inside the church, in the remaining plaster parts the Turkish decoration and inscriptions of the Qur'an are clearly visible. The Turkish pulpit and the women's balcony were destroyed and the mihrab is not the original either. The two Turkish bathing basins before the sacristies are taken from the former bath of the pasha next to the church. Today, the building functions as a Catholic church.References:
Derbent is the southernmost city in Russia, occupying the narrow gateway between the Caspian Sea and the Caucasus Mountains connecting the Eurasian steppes to the north and the Iranian Plateau to the south. Derbent claims to be the oldest city in Russia with historical documentation dating to the 8th century BCE. Due to its strategic location, over the course of history, the city changed ownership many times, particularly among the Persian, Arab, Mongol, Timurid, Shirvan and Iranian kingdoms.
Derbent has archaeological structures over 5,000 years old. As a result of this geographic peculiarity, the city developed between two walls, stretching from the mountains to the sea. These fortifications were continuously employed for a millennium and a half, longer than any other extant fortress in the world.
A traditionally and historically Iranian city, the first intensive settlement in the Derbent area dates from the 8th century BC. The site was intermittently controlled by the Persian monarchs, starting from the 6th century BC. Until the 4th century AD, it was part of Caucasian Albania which was a satrap of the Achaemenid Persian Empire. In the 5th century Derbent functioned as a border fortress and the seat of Sassanid Persians. Because of its strategic position on the northern branch of the Silk Route, the fortress was contested by the Khazars in the course of the Khazar-Arab Wars. In 654, Derbent was captured by the Arabs.
The Sassanid fortress does not exist any more, as the famous Derbent fortress as it stands today was built from the 12th century onward. Derbent became a strong military outpost and harbour of the Sassanid empire. During the 5th and 6th centuries, Derbent also became an important center for spreading the Christian faith in the Caucasus.
The site continued to be of great strategic importance until the 19th century. Today the fortifications consist of two parallel defence walls and Naryn-Kala Citadel. The walls are 3.6km long, stretching from the sea up to the mountains. They were built from stone and had 73 defence towers. 9 out of the 14 original gates remain.
In Naryn-Kala Citadel most of the old buildings, including a palace and a church, are now in ruins. It also holds baths and one of the oldest mosques in the former USSR.
In 2003, UNESCO included the old part of Derbent with traditional buildings in the World Heritage List.