Orta Mosque

The “Orta Mosque” is a complex set of buildings which is found in the old urbanized core of the town. Findings had been found on this site from the Hellenic, Roman, Late Ancient and Medieval period. The findings from the Hellenic period are represented with characteristic Homer types of Megara cups with scenes from Homer’s Iliad (III – II century B.C.), as well as a vessel which has a portrait of Artemis, the goddess of hunting – worshipped greatly in this region (III – II century B.C.), a vessel holder with a portrait of Silenus – a forest deity; an eagle and other findings from the roman period (II century) and many plates, cups, pots, earrings and coins from III – II century B.C. – XVII century. It was also found a marble statue base from the end of II and beginning of III century with an inscription: It is in good time the town places this statue of its patron, the great Tiberius Claudius Menon, for his benevolence and qualities. The site also contains remnants from a structure that is very likely to have been an early Christian basilica.

In the late XI and early XII century, a triple-apse church was built, most likely dedicated to the Holy Mother of God, which is mentioned in the charters of the Serbian ruler Stefan Dushan (1331-1355), and the Byzantine emperor John VI Cantacuzenus (1347-1354). A synthronos found in the church is an indication of its Episcopal rank.

The fresco paintings date back to the time when the church was built. One of the most remarkable frescoes are The Apostle Paul from the composition of the Apostles taking Holy Communion, the Apostle Luke, the Apostle Simon, female hieromartyrs of noble descent, the cycle of the big holidays and the Passion of Christ. The church burnt down in the XIII century, and a necropolis was built on the same place which was used from the Middle Ages until XVII century. In 1613/14, or 1022 according to the Islamic calendar, a mosque was built on the same place. It was called Orta, or Middle Mosque.