Bulgaria’s Yambol Celebrates 1st Anniversary since Restoration of 16th Century Ottoman Bedestan (Covered Market)

The Yambol Bedestan, an Ottoman covered market built in 1509, has been turned into a cultural center with a museum after an EU-funded rehabilitation, and has regained its status as the city's main landmark. Photo: Yambol Municipality

The Yambol Bedestan, an Ottoman covered market built in 1509, has been turned into a cultural center with a museum after an EU-funded rehabilitation, and has regained its status as the city’s main landmark. Photo: Yambol Municipality

The city of Yambol in Southeast Bulgaria has marked the first anniversary since the rehabilitation and opening of its 16th century bedestan (bezistan; bedesten), a covered market from the period of the Ottoman Empire, which has been turned into a cultural and information center and a museum.

The 500-year-old Yambol Bedestan is considered a symbolic building for the city, and the anniversary since its renovation is to be celebrated with a Day of Open Doors on Monday, September 19, 2016, Yambol Municipality has announced.

It reminds that the Ottoman covered market in Yambol is the only preserved bedestan in Bulgaria, and one of the most beautiful buildings of its type on the entire Balkan Peninsula.

“[It is] a prime example of a public building for civilian purposes in the Ottoman Empire from the period between the 15th and the 17th century century," says the Municipality.

It is noted that the interactive museum inside the Yambol Bedestan offers “time travel" through the use of a 3D images of people, fortress, churches, and public building connected with the history of the city, including the stories of the Yambol Zeppelin from World War I, the horse-drawn tram (horsecar) from the early 20th century, and the ideas of the Yambol anarchists.

For the Day of Open Doors in the Yambol Bedestan, the entire staff is going to be wearing costumes from the early 20th century. A wide range of events such as concerts and exhibitions are also featured in the program for the 1st anniversary of the renovated cultural monument.

The museum inside the Yambol Bedestan features both an archaeological (above) and a modern history (below) exhibition. Photos: Yambol Municipality

The museum inside the Yambol Bedestan features both an archaeological (above) and a modern history (below) exhibition. Photo: Yambol Municipality

The Yambol Bedestan is a monument of culture from the period of the Ottoman Yoke, i.e. when Bulgaria was part of the Ottoman Empire (1396-1878/1912).

While this period of Bulgarian history is largely viewed negatively, surviving Ottoman architecture buildings of various types (such as mosques or bridges) have been preserved as cultural and historical monuments.

The bedestan in Yambol 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 was restored and renovated only in 2014-2015 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 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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Late 19th and early 20th century costumes exhibited in the Yambol Bedestan's museum. Photo: Yambol Municipality

Late 19th and early 20th century costumes exhibited in the Yambol Bedestan’s museum. Photo: Yambol Municipality

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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