Bulgaria’s Yambol Unveils Restored 16th Century Bedestan (Covered Market) from Ottoman Empire Period

The Ottoman covered market (bedestan) in Bulgaria's southern city of Yambol was built in 1509. Photo: Fransvannes, Wikipedia

The Ottoman covered market (bedestan) in Bulgaria’s southern city of Yambol was built in 1509. Photo: Fransvannes, Wikipedia

The southern Bulgarian city of Yambol has opened its rehabilitated 16th century bedestan (bezistan; bedesten), a covered market from the period of the Ottoman Empire, which has now been turned into a cultural and information center with performance space, art exhibitions, and a museum section.

The Yambol Bedestan, a monument of culture from the period of the Ottoman Yoke, i.e. when Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire (1396-1878/1912), is the only Ottoman covered market which has been preserved in modern-day Bulgaria.

It was built in 1509, and received the status of “a monument of culture of national importance” back in 1941 by the authorities in the Tsardom of Bulgaria (1878-1946).

After the collapse of Bulgaria’s communist regime (1944-1989), however, the Yambol Bedestan was largely abandoned.

It has been restored and renovated only now with BGN 5 million (app. EUR 2.55 million) in EU funding by Yambol Municipality as part of the efforts of the authorities to boost cultural tourism, and promote cultural, art, and museum events.

The restored building of the Ottoman covered market in Yambol has been formally unveiled by Bulgarian Prime Minister Boyko Borisov.

“The idea of this project has been to give the building a new look, and a new function because it is the natural center of the city," says the Director of the Yambol Regional Museum of History Stefan Bakardzhiev, as cited by the Bulgarian National Television.

Yambol Mayor Georgi Slavov has pointed out that the concept for the renovation of the cultural monument is based on the city’s motto, “I come from ancient times, and go to the future".

The 16th century Yambol Bedestan has been renovated with EU money as part of cultural tourism promotion efforts. Photo: TV grab from BNT

The 16th century Yambol Bedestan has been renovated with EU money as part of cultural tourism promotion efforts. Photo: TV grab from BNT

The main level of the Yambol Bedestan has been fashioned into a performance space, and an exhibition area presently featuring an exhibit about the building’s history and an applied art exposition.

The underground level of the Ottoman covered market shows a museum exhibition of archaeological artifacts, and folklore costumes and items.

It also features icons from Yambol created in the 18th and 19th century. They present the so called Stranzha Art School, and come from the collection of the George Papazoff Art Gallery in the city.

Another section of the bedestan shows 3D images of historical buildings, events, and people, and tourist routes.

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Archaeological artifacts, including Ancient Thracian gold, have been provided from the Yambol Regional Museum of History for the archaeological exhibition in the renovated bedestan. Photos: TV grabs from BNT

Archaeological artifacts, including Ancient Thracian gold, have been provided from the Yambol Regional Museum of History for the archaeological exhibition in the renovated bedestan. Photos: TV grabs from BNT

Bedestan Yambol 5

Bedestan Yambol 2

Background Infonotes:

The bedestan (bezistan; bedesten), (i.e. a covered market in the Ottoman Empire), in the southern Bulgarian city of Yambol is a historical monument from the period of the Ottoman Yoke when Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Turkish Empire (1396-1878/1912).

Ottoman bedestans were centrally located commercial buildings based on the Greco-Roman basilica but their architecture was modeled after the design of mosques. Because of the importance of the bedestans, Ottoman cities were classified as cities with or without a bedestan.

The Yambol Bedestan, which was built in 1509 AD, is the only preserved Ottoman covered market in today’s Bulgaria.

In 1667, Ottoman traveler Evliya Celebi wrote about it that there was no such lively and decorated bedestan in any other country as the Yambol Bedestan.

In 1941, the Yambol Bedestan was declared “a monument of culture of national importance” by the government of the Tsardom of Bulgaria (the Third Bulgarian Tsardom).

In the 1970s, i.e. during the communist period, it was rehabilitated as a monument of culture. After the end of Bulgaria’s communist regime in 1989, the Yambol Bedestan was abandoned and remained closed for visitors for 25 years.

It was restored in 2014-2015 under a project of Yambol Municipality with funding from EU Operational Program “Regional Development" worth over BGN 5 million (app. EUR 2,55 million).

The restoration unveiled in September 2015 turned the Yambol Bedestan into a cultural and information center with performance, exhibition, and museum sections.

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