It is not known when the district we know as Kapana these days first appeared. We should look for the beginning sometime around the end of the XIVth century, when Anatolian settlers came to Plovdiv. There is no information what was built in this early period, because at the time of the fights for power among the heirs of Sultan Bayezid I the Lightning (1389-1402) the curtain walls were torn down, as probably were the buildings behind them. It’s only settled that the Christians remained on the three hills, while the Muslims took over the space from Maritsa to the feet of Taxim tepe, Dzhambaz tepe and Nebet tepe.
Researchers believe that the new Ottoman town’s first core was the Muradiye mosque (Dzhumaya mosque), built around 1434-1437 with the financial support of Sultan Murad II. According to Ottoman documental sources, the Tahtakale bath on the current Benkovski Bld. was built at approximately the same time. On account of Evliya Celebi’s words it welcomed 1000 people a day. The second core was the cult complex built by the Beylerbey Sehabeddin Pasa, which has been mentioned in documents as the ‘elevated imaret’, formed c. 1444-1445 around the bridge over Maritsa. Only Imaret mosque has been preserved to this day from it. Between these two cores, in the XVth century Hunkyar hamam and Chifte bath were built, as well as the Tahtakale mosque by the current bus stop north of the tunnel. Later, the mosques Chukur Camii, Hadji Ismail Bey, Yeshilioogly, Kurkculer bashi and others appeared. The building of the famous Kurshum han (TN: The lead inn), which was severely damaged in the 1928 earthquake and was finally demolished in 1930-1932 when the Central market hall was built, is also connected to the rule of Sehabeddin Pasa. There were 8 other inns near it.
The market complex started from the bridge over Maritsa and continued along the main commercial street to Dzhumaya mosque. According to Evliya Celebi, just there were 880 dukkans (shops). The center of the market complex was the Grand Bazaar (a roofed market), which used to stand between the streets Hristo Dukmendzhiev, Kurtevich, Zlatarska and Alceko before it was demolished in 1925. Next to the Bazaar was the Srafhane (something like a bank). On the nearby streets there were stone maazas (warehouses) and countless artisan workshops. The statistics from the 1880’s clarifies that there were more than 9000 artisans working in that district.
According to Evliya Celebi, Ottoman Plovdiv was the most beautiful and richest of all towns in European Turkey. Of all these imposing for their time buildings only two mosques, a bath and a few maazas have survived to this day.
In this 1984 photo ypu can see the mosques Muradiye, Tahtakale, Chukur Camii and Kurkculer bashi. In the middle is Kurshum han’s imposing building and behind it – the domes of the Bazzar and of Tahtakale.