The Colourful Wooden Mosque of Maral

posted in: Black Sea Region 34

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

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Hi. I'm Natalie, a freelance travel blogger and writer specializing in the country of Turkey. I love hot summer days, historical sites and coffee.

34 Responses

  1. Nat
    |

    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.

  2. Sue
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    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.

  3. Most colourful mosque I have ever seen

  4. Lori
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    The colours are pretty awesome indeed!

  5. Once you have seen your first mosque, you can not stop viewing others and comparing. Glad you enjoyed the experience

  6. 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).

  7. Thanks Stephanie but it was due to the guide that I saw it. One of the plus points of going on a group tour

  8. Did not expect to see that inside. Great find!

  9. You are welcome Lillie – Glad you liked them

  10. Same here Angela, it is definitely the loudest mosque that I have ever seen. Yet I loved the quirky appearance.

  11. These photos are lovely and charming! Thanks for sharing.

  12. Angela
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    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!

  13. Exactly! it could be easily missed Cole

  14. The door is my favourite part of it Ali. There is another mosque like it in the village of Macahel as well

  15. Cole @ FourJandals.com
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    Wow, if you were just walking past you wouldn’t even realise it was a Mosque!

  16. Ali
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    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.

  17. I have never been to Hawaii Steve but can imagine. I am sucker for watching Hawaii 50! 🙂

  18. Do it Susie, the whole of the Black sea region is amazing

  19. Thank you Wendell. Glad you are planning to come to Turkey, you will enjoy it so much.

  20. I took so many photos trying to capture all the small details. Will be great to look back on them in ten years time.

  21. Wonderful collection of colours Francesca. Glad you liked the post and thank you for reading it

  22. Amazing what they achieved in history without all the gadgets and machines that we have these days.

  23. Yes, the roof really does distract from the beauty of the mosque inside

  24. Thought you would like it Alan – places like this seem to be your speciality.

  25. Thanks Kadir – I am hoping to make it to Konya in December so will check out that mosque.

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

  27. What a gorgeous place! I want to go there!

  28. Wendell Willat
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    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.

  29. just WOW — look at all those bright colors! I would probably spend an hour just photographing and staring in awe. Great hidden gem!

    – Maria Alexandra

  30. I love the colors! Great post & photos!

  31. What beautiful detail…hard to believe all done by hand and wood!

  32. What a delightful surprise. I do hope it’s still there in a 100 years but maybe with a better roof?

  33. Alan
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    . . Harika! Just my sort of place – beautiful! What an excellent post Natalie.

  34. Kadir
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    Hi,

    if you want to see nice mosque you should go to Konya, Beysehir.

    Esrefoglu mozque is amazing.

    http://www.turkishculture.org/architecture/mosques/seljuk-mosques/esrefoglu-mosque-855.htm