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Advent in Pécs: Former Mosque Now Unique Church Decorated with Light Installation

Fanni Kaszás 2020.12.11.

The Mosque of Pasha Gazi Kassim in Pécs, now the Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, is decorated with light installations in the run-up to Christmas during the four week long Advent period. Every evening, until December 20th, a different projection provides a festive Christmas atmosphere in the beautiful southern Hungarian city. During the second and third weekends of the Advent period, the colorful artworks of children that were selected in a competition are displayed on the mosque. 

From November 27th to December 20th, from 4.30-7.30 p.m., the mosque in Széchenyi Square in Pécs is dressed up to a beautiful, colorful display every night to bring the Christmas atmosphere to the city center. The light artists of the LaLuz Visuals group, who are already known for the Zsolnay Light Festival, are responsible for the light installations.

In addition to these light installations, on the second and third weekends of Advent, the colorful artworks of children that were selected in a competition, light up the mosque. The children’s painting competition was announced in November, with the aim of not only giving professional light painters, but also children the opportunity to demonstrate their creativity.


The Downtown Candlemas Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary was a mosque during the Ottoman conquest. It was built by Pasha Qasim the Victorious between 1543 and 1546. The building formerly known as the Mosque of Pasha Qasim, was converted to a church in 1702, after Habsburg-Hungarian forces reconquered the city. One of the largest Ottoman constructions remaining in Hungary, it still retains many Turkish architectural characteristics.

The organizing team of the “Zsolnay Light Festival” was waiting for applications from three age groups: kindergarten children, 6-10 year olds, and 11-14 year-old school children. The organizers provided applicants with a template of the mosque, with the call to decorate it as colorfully as possible, while also harmonizing with and respecting the sacredness, spirituality, and traditions of the building. They valued works most that reflect the beauty of the Advent period and the approaching Christmas holidays.

The competition, which ended on November 25th, received a total of 1,200 works from around the country, including full kindergarten groups and school classes. The drawings will be available online at adventpecs.hu (and it’s also worth checking out the Advent Pécs Facebook page).

featured photo: Tamás Sóki/MTI