The Colourful Wooden Mosque of Maral

From the outside, the wooden mosque of Maral looked plain and boring.

Situated on a slope, next to a winding mountain road, it would be easy to dismiss it as an abandoned building with no life.

The wood was old and tired. It looked out of place with the metal minaret.

I was not expecting to be wowed.

Once you have seen the size and décor of the Blue mosque in Istanbul, it is difficult to view any other mosque with the same admiration.

Wooden mosque in Maral

I felt guilt at my criticism of the outside appearance when the guide told me the mosque was 160 years old. In this area of Turkey, once occupied by the Russians, the history of the people who have crossed its doorstep would be varied and interesting, yet it is untold.

The lesson was not to judge on first appearances though as the beauty lay inside the doors.

Door to mosque in Black sea region

Any hard-core interior design would instantly criticise the clash of colours spreading across the room, up the beams and across the dome ceiling. I was drawn to it though as the beauty lays in the workmanship and intricate details.

inside a mosque

Scenes from the Quran adorned the walls. Each one carefully painted by hand.

Scene from the quran

In a surprising twist, the ceiling reminded me of the rising Japanese sun, but with a variety of colours, not just red and white.

The hat and gown of the Imam, hang on the wall, next to the window where a full view of the green valley came into sight.

The woodwork and colours caught my attention, but I was also intrigued by the carpet and doubted it was the original.

I had taken my shoes off at the door and could feel the soft wool of the carpet under my feet.  No signs of wear and tear were evident and it was immaculate.

Wooden mosque in the black sea

The stairs creaked as I walked upstairs to the section for women. I wonder if this would be the moment, that the floor beams finally gave in after hundreds of years of support. I did not want to be the inconsiderate foreigner who ruined the local village mosque so I made my way outside.

Ladies section in mosque

The attention of the group was drawn to the door on the steel minaret. It opened to reveal the original wooden structure and winding stairs that take the imam to the top to make the call to prayer.

While the men in the group climbed the stairs, I declined. The thought of being in a steel tube in the height of summer was not appealing.

A large sheet of steel covered one side of the mosque. The guide said the locals are worried about the wooden mosque of Maral. The heat of summer and the coldness of winter are taking its toll on the wood. Hopefully the steel will prolong its life.

I admire their concern because in other areas of the Black sea of Turkey, the preservation of these mosques is not on a list of importance. This baker in Samsun bought a 300-year-old wooden mosque.

His intention was to break it down and use it for firewood to fuel his ovens.

Turkey wooden mosque

Will the wooden mosque of Maral still be there in 100 years’ time?

I doubt it

Readers Question : Do you like looking at mosques when you are traveling through a town, city or village?


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Hi. My name is Natalie Sayin and I am the author of The Turkish Travel Blog. I am an Internet addict with a passion for history. Read my story here or leave a comment below to join the discussions.
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  1. Wendell Willat says

    Another great post. Love your blend of unique content and great (personal) photos as well. Turkey wasn’t on my bucket list until starting to read your blog.

  2. says

    The tin shack picture at the top actually looks a lot like places we’ve been on the BIg Island Hawaii!

  3. says

    Wow, I love all the bright colors! And those doors are gorgeous! Just another example of not judging a book by its cover I guess.
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  4. says

    Wow this is a very colorful mosque! When I’m in muslim countries I always go to see their mosques, as well as churches in christian countries or hindu temples in India. I think worship places reveal much of their country and people, I always like to connect their creed to their society.
    This mosque looks pretty unusual. All masjid I’ve seen are usually more simple-looking. Even if more decorated and embellished, like the Blue Mosque or Sheik Zayed Grand Mosque in Abu Dhabi, but always more monochromatic, this one looks definitely louder!
    Angela wrote about..Delicious and healthy, taste tapioca with me in Fortaleza (VIDEO)

  5. says

    Went to our first mosque together in Bosnia’s Mostar just the other week & it was beyond spectacular . Far better than the stuffy stone block churches you find back in the UK (though admittedly some of those are really beautiful in its own way too).
    ANGLO/Dale wrote about..Mostar: A Piece Of Recent History!

  6. Sue says

    I’d love to visit this Mosque but cannot find ant other details about Maral & how to get there. I’m guessing it is in the Eastern Black Sea region.

    • Nat says

      It is in the Northeast region Sue. Look for details on the region of Macahel or Artvin instead because it is encompassed within those areas. I actually ended up booking a tour because the region is so remote and I was not sure of my ability to drive there. Also public transport is adhoc.

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