Fire damages historic Ottoman mosque in Greece

2017-03-23 07:19
Firemen douse the fire in the historic 15th century Ottoman mosque in Didymoteicho, Greece. (Alexandra Gidika, AFP)

Firemen douse the fire in the historic 15th century Ottoman mosque in Didymoteicho, Greece. (Alexandra Gidika, AFP)

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Thessaloniki - A fire during restoration work has caused serious damage to a historic 15th century Ottoman mosque in Didymoteicho, northeastern Greece, local officials say.

"For the moment there is no indication that arson was involved," said Nathanail Rigas, head firefighter of the Thrace region bordering Turkey.

Rigas said restoration work could have sparked the fire at the Bayezid mosque. He added an investigation had begun.

The Greek ministry of culture lamented the damage to "a very important part of the country's cultural heritage" while underlining Athens' determination to complete restoration work begun last year with EU financial support.

Cultural monument

Didymoteicho mayor Paraskevas Patsouridis said the mosque's ornate oak roof sustained "serious damage" from the fire, which broke out in the early hours and was tackled by more than 50 firefighters.

Patsouridis said no work had been going on at the site when the blaze started.

Greek police said a smaller fire had broken out on Tuesday - reportedly during welding - and had apparently been extinguished, but likely flared anew.

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.

The Greek region of Thrace has a Muslim minority of Turkish origin numbering around 100 000.
Read more on:    greece

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