Turkey laments fire in historic Ottoman mosque in Greece
ANKARA – Anadolu AgencyThe Turkish Foreign Ministry on March 22 expressed its sadness over the fire damage done to a nearly 600-year-old Ottoman era mosque in Greece.
“We were saddened to learn that Çelebi Sultan Mehmet Mosque in Didymoteicho, Greece, built in 1420, which its restoration Greek authorities began in 2016, was severely damaged as a result of a fire that broke out in the early hours of March 22,” said the ministry in a statement.
The ministry stressed the importance of restoring the mosque - one of the most distinguished examples of Turkey’s common cultural heritage with Greece - in its original form and preserving it for future generations.
“We expect Greek authorities to determine the cause of the fire,” it said.
It expressed Turkey’s willingness to do whatever it can in cooperation with Greece to restore the mosque.
The historic mosque in northern Greece was severely damaged by a fire early in the morning of March 21, according to local media.
The cause of the blaze is unknown.
However, Greek news agency ANA-MPA reported that an electrical fault could be the cause.
“For the moment there is no indication that arson was involved,” Nathanail Rigas, head fireman of the Thrace region bordering Turkey, told AFP on March 22.
There was no work underway when the fire broke out at around 1:00 a.m. GMT, the mayor said.
Initiated under Sultan Bayezid I and named after him, the mosque - a cultural monument not in use for prayer - is considered the largest in southeastern Europe and of unique architectural and historical importance.