The Eski Cami and the Hadem Ali Pasha Bedestan or market are situated in the centre of the town of Yambol in south-eastern Bulgaria. Although the city was founded in the Roman period during which it was known as Diospolis, it only became prominent under the Ottomans. By then the name has evolved to the current form. Today, it is a large industrial town with an open central square, around which are situated the monumental Communist party headquarters and parade grounds, shops and offices, as well as the Bedestan and the Eski Cami, the latter two being the only monuments of note in the town. The restoration of these two buildings has given focus to the town centre. The Bedestan is alive with activity throughout the day, and well into the evening.
The mosque is entered from the north through a large, vaulted portico, the western portal, which was reconstructed on the basis of foundation walls that the project uncovered, remains closed. Although there are three entrances into the prayer hall, only the central doorway is used today. The prayer hall is square with two rectangular vaulted bays on either side, the western bay has been subdivided to create an office and work-room for the imam of the mosque. This room can only be entered from the north façade. The eastern bay is curtained off and used as a prayer hall for women. There is a shallow mihrab in the southern wall of the mosque, it has a muqarnas overhang and floral painted decorations. The central dome is massive, with large piers supporting the soaring arches on four sides. On the east and west sides these monumental openings frame smaller archways that lead into the bays. The paintings preserved in the interior of the mosque date to the 17th century.
The Bedestan of Hadim Ali Pasha, built in 1502 by the Grand Vizier of the same name. The objective of the Restoration Institute was the preservation of the cultural heritage of Bulgaria. The main aim of the government programme was to reinvent Bulgaria and its diverse cultures through its standing monuments. All significant monuments, from the Neolithic up and including the modern era were registered and documented. The total area of the site is 3500 square metres although the ground floor area covered by the Bedestan including the basement, is 2360 square metres. The basement houses a tavern, a banquet hall, a pastry shop, a staff cloakroom, stores, lavatories, service areas and the installations for the heating system. The ground floor contains a central vaulted and domed market-hall with four entrances, only the southern entrance is now open. The central space is open with no built-in shops, instead it houses16 large stalls made of white metal or aluminium, that sell toys, clothes, and various sporting goods for the youth of the town. Two cafes take up the north-west and south-east corners of the Bedestan, the coffee tables spilling out onto the terraces that surround the building.
The design of the Bedestan was presumably based on that of the original form that had survived as a nucleus within the old covered bazaar with late additions of the 18th and 19th centuries. It occupies roughly the same space as the old bazaar although clearing the area around and leaving it free-standing accentuated its isolation, and gave it a formality and importance presumably not intended in the original design.
Source: Aga Khan Trust for Culture