GES103 - Islamic Centre & Masjid, Bar, Montenegro
After leaving a site, one usually doesn't have to worry too much about danger. However putting up this site could cause problems if crazed religious fanatics take exception to it. It should be noted I did remove my sunhat before going in.
The Montenegro coast is great, you can go from one end to the other in a handful of hours, buses ply the route regularly. I was staying in the well known resort of Budva, and hopped on a bus down to Bar. My main interest was the abandoned town that sits perched on a hill overlooking the modern day town of Bar. I like to explore and see things one doesn't normally notice. So I shunned the opportunity to take a taxi up the hill the 4km to the abandoned city, and opted to walk in the warm sunshine. As the road wound up the hillside, I spotted the twin minarets of a Masjid. I didn't take much notice at first, as they are two a penny in a mostly Muslim country. However as I looked closer I noticed it had an unfinished nature to it. Hmmmm, should I take a look? I decided it would be too dodgy with visions of enraged locals lynching me in the street before loping my handsome head off. So I continued up the hill and despatched a Euro to look around the abandoned town of Bar.
As the bus back to the bus station didn't leave for quarter of an hour, I decided to just walk back down the hill. As I did so the Masjid kept teasing me on the skyline. "you know you want to do me don't you, just a little explore maybe, just see my inner sanctum." As the turn-off approached for the village the Masjid was in, I gave in to the site's charms and scampered down the path. I looked around and walked to the building via a neighbouring field to try to reduce attention. A quick nip and I was in the shadows of the building. I climbed some stairs and was on a balcony type area overlooking the main prayer hall.
It's strange because I had been wondering about minarets on the recent trip. Having been woken by 5am prayers in Kosovo, I wondered do Imams go running up the minarets 5 times a day, or merely use the loudspeakers from the ground floor. Common sense would favour the latter, unless some kind of penance was involved for the innocent non-muslims rudely woken at a distinctly ungodly hour. So when presented with a minaret and incomplete stair well, how could I resist a trip up? I was saddened to see the plastic doors to the minaret balconies were locked tight as i ascended. Getting to the top the minaret shrinks, so the last few turns were rather tight.
Looking out the tiny slots at the top of the minaret, so thin I couldn't get my 17-85 lens out of the slot. This is looking North into the mountains of the interior of Montenegro.
The best I could do with getting a shot down onto the Masjid dome below. Looking out SW from the minaret.
Back on concrete terra-firma, the outside courtyard and entrance to the site.
Looking up into the dome from the prayer hall.
Underneath the prayer hall, areas set aside for teachings and Quran study.
Open areas on the basement level, below the main prayer hall.
I nipped out into the field again, and waited for a car to whizz by, before stepping back onto the road and trekking up the hill sharpish. Luckily I didn't hear words like 'Infidel' shouted after me. Although I did see a dead cat prostrated in the road. A sign?! Departing shot of the Masjid, you can see the slots in the minaret just below the black cones.
I hopped into a taxi that passed down the hill, keen to make distance. Luckily I seem to easily attract the attention of taxi drivers in foreign climes. Their eagerness to make a few bob out of anyone knows little shame.