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Tetovo – Painted Mosque and Arabati Baba Teke

Tetovo’s beautiful Painted Mosque is like something out of the. Arabian Tales and quite unique in the Balkans. First built in the 15th century, it was razed to the ground two centuries later in a great fire that annihilated half the city; the design and architecture you see today is a 19th-century reconstruction. The facade is a patchwork of rectangular panels worked in a fresco technique; inside, the decoration becomes rich and floral, with geometric and arabesque ornamentation.
The mosque’s design was masterminded by Abdurrahman Pasha of Tetovo, hence the name Pasha’s Mosque (though it is much more widely known simply as the Painted Mosque).
The mosque sits on the southern bank of the Pena River, which bisects Tetovo. The town itself is a largely modern place and there’s little to keep you here.

History of Arabati Baba Teke

The teke was built in 1538 – just 30 years after the Tetovo Monastery – around the türbe tomb of Sersem Ali Baba, an Ottoman Dervish. It was augmented in 1799 and turned into a large precinct for the local Bektashi community. The Bektashi were expelled from the area in 1912 and the teke was left in ruins. Later, it was designated state property of Yugoslavia and turned into a hotel and museum.

Other things to do in Tetovo

  • Stone bridge: Tetovo’s single-arched stone bridge is thought to have been built in the 15th century. It still links the two sides of town; you have to pass over it to reach the mosque.
  • Tetovo Hamam:Located directly opposite the mosque on the bank of the river, this is a really impressive stone bathhouse, with prominent domes.
  • Tetovo Fortress:Like most towns of its size, Tetovo also has a stone fortress built in a strategic elevated position. Tetovo’s fortress was built in 1820 by Adurahman Pasha, the same man who sponsored the mosque’s rehabilitation.
  • Green market: There is a pleasant undercover green market in the centre of Tetovo, right at the roundabout where the bus drops passengers off. If markets are your thing, you might like to take a walk through before continuing on to the mosque.
  • Cafes & restaurants:One of Tetovo’s main street, Boris Kidrikj, is lined with cafes from the roundabout all the way down to the river. There are a fair few local restaurants, too. We ate lunch at Restaurant Sedra, a Tetovo institution that’s been serving up kjebapčinja and grilled meat since the early 1950s.