The tekke “Ak Yazili Baba baba” – “the most famous Muslim and Christian holy place” in the Bulgarian lands in the past, is located near the village of Obrochishte, not far from the thick dense forest “Baltata” and the Black Sea coast.
“With the exception of the tekke of the imams Ali and Hussein in Baghdad, there is no tekke of this kind either in Turkey оr in the Persian lands” – wrote the famous Ottoman traveler Evliya Çelebi. He visited this place in 1652. At that time Evliya was very sick, but after spending one night near the tomb of the saint, he immediately healed. It is difficult to establish if the traveler‘s praises of the monastery near Obrochishte are due to the miracle or to his sincere admiration. For one thing, however, he was wrong. Similar tekke could be found not only in other parts of the Ottoman Empire, but also in Bulgaria. Among them are the tombs of Osman Baba in the village of Bogomil, Haskovo; of Demir Baba in Sborianovo, Isperih and of Kademli Baba near the village of Grafitovo, Nova Zagora. But in Dobrudzha there is really no other such tekke. Even today it remains the best example of Ottoman religious architecture in our land since the beginning of the 16th century.
What now remains of the once large religious complex are two isolated monumental buildings with the same plan and construction, but of different sizes – türbe or the tomb of the saint and the imaret, where the dervishes performed their rituals and welcomed guests of the tekke. They represent a full heptagon with a rectangular antechamber attached to one of its walls. In the middle of the türbe is the tomb of Ak Yazili Baba, oriented northeast- southwest and covered with green cloth. Once next to it were placed the personal belongings of Ak Yazili Baba, which were believed to possess his extraordinary powers. Even today impressive elements are the paintings on walls and ceilings of the türbe – stylized Eastern floral and geometric ornaments. The imaret of the tekke is significantly larger and with a south entrance. In the past, at the end of its main room there was a complex seven-layered wooden structure, lined with sheet metal, which was destroyed during the Russian-Turkish wars. In the middle of the imaret there was once a fountain, while in its northern end there was an outdoor fireplace, ending with a high heptagonal stone chimney, reminiscent of an exquisite minaret. In ancient time a huge cauldron was hanging over the fireplace on a thick chain, a symbol of the dervishes’ hospitality, who provided free food and shelter for three days to each traveler who passed through this place.
Patron of the tekke is the Muslim saint Ak Yazili Baba, revered by the local population as an ancient mythical hero – a healer and a miracle worker, commander of the earth forces and harbinger of fertility. In fact, this saint was a real person. In contrast to the legends, the few historical sources that have reached us, describe him as a leader of the dervish order – a successor to the famous Osman Baba, whose turbe is located in the village of Bogomil, Haskovo and a spiritual mentor to Demir Baba, which in turn is a patron of the tekke in Sboryanovo, Isperih.
For centuries, the monastery served as a spiritual center not only to the monks but also to the local population, attracting believers from near and distant parts of the empire. Since the second half of 20th c. it has also been visited by Christians, coming here to honor Saint Atanas. The reasons why the place became sacred to two religions remain unclear, but the fact that the local population considered the tekke a sanctuary made possible its worship by various ethno-confessional groups: Muslims (Sunni or Shia) and Christians. Traditionally, people following Islam visit the tekke on Monday, Thursday and Friday or when offering a vow and Christians – when they need the help and protection of their saint. The greatest gatherings take place on the 2nd of May – which is both Saint Atanas’ Day and Ak Yazili Baba’s Day and Bulgarians and Turks celebrate together. Despite the fact that believers perceive and reflect on their visit through the lens of their ethno-confessional affiliation, on the tekke they perform the same rituals – they pray at the tomb of the saint, wash themselves with water, tie rags on the branches of the trees, light candles, bring rich votive gifts. All these rites, associated with the life-death dichotomy and aimed at receiving the protection of the saint in whose power people believe whole-heartedly, are ancient practices but they continue to live even today.
Where: village of Obrochistre, Balchik Municipality
For more information: tel.: 057 972 177
When: all year round, a visit on 2nd of May is recommended;
Learn more ...The Tekke “Ak Yazili Baba– Saint Atanas” – village of Obrochishte, Balchik Municipality