The structure called Hacılar Ezanı in Edirne offers a good opportunity to explain the concept of a 'namazgah.' While it is not necessary to introduce the idea of a mosque as a building of religious worship for the Muslims, it is worth taking a closer look at the concept of namazgah. It is also a place of worship, but it serves to perform prayers in the open air. Actually, the word namazgah comes from the Persian language and literally means the place of worship.
As the Muslims must pray five times a day, the need to do it may arise not necessarily in the proximity of a mosque. Therefore, in places outside the cities, especially along the trade route, the outdoor worship places were arranged to perform the prayers. These namazgahs were built in the form of flat platforms, raised a few steps above the ground. Usually, just one wall was erected on this platform, to enable the placement of the mihrab - a semicircular niche that indicates the qibla, that is the direction of the Kaaba in Mecca and hence the direction that Muslims should face when praying. This wall sometimes also carries the verses from the Quran and the names of the sponsors of the prayer place.
There were also larger kinds of namazgahs, equipped not only with a mihrab but also with a minbar - a pulpit where the imam stands or sits to deliver sermons. These large open-air prayer areas were also used for the feasts and other activities that were held by people coming together.
The General Directorate of Foundations - a Turkish governmental institution that manages and audits religious foundations dating back to the Ottoman Empire - has reported that they had identified over 150 historical namazgahs in Istanbul only. However, there are only four places identified as a namazgah in the area of Edirne. Hacılar Ezanı Namazgah is the best-preserved and most beautiful of them, along with Kumkasrı Namazgah from the area of the New Ottoman Palace.
In the Ottoman times, Hacılar Ezanı Namazgah was the first location where the pilgrims travelling to Mecca from Edirne and the Balkans used to stop for praying on the way to Istanbul. Its name - Hacılar Ezanı - means the Pilgrim's Prayer. The prayer area and fountain were built by architect Ahmet Ağa in 1798.
The structure consists of a prayer niche erected on a raised platform, on the square plan. Four pillars that form round arches support a semispherical dome. In front of the namazgah, there is a rectangular fountain made of cut stone blocks.
It was repaired in 1903 by Hacı Cezzar Mustafa Efendi and his wife, Hacer Hanım. Later, it fell into disrepair and was neglected for many years. Finally, the necessary repairs were made in 2005 by the General Directorate of Foundations.
Hacılar Ezanı Namazgah and Fountain are clearly visible from the road and can be visited at all times of day and night. There's no need to pay for the visit.
Hacılar Ezanı Namazgah and Fountain are located on the Edirne Istanbul road D100, 3.5 km to the south-east from the historical centre of Edirne.