Kurshum Khan is one of the legendary Plovdiv buildings that we remember with sadness. A large and beautiful stone structure that survived the centuries but was torn down to give rise to today's market halls
The Turkish word "kurshum" means lead. And Kurshum Khan is the khan with the lead domes. It is probably one of the first buildings the Ottomans erected after the conquest of the city - ie. it was built in the late 14th century by Lala Shahin's son - Shihabedin Pasha. One of the most detailed descriptions of it is given to us by Evliya Chelebi, who saw it around the year 1650 - with 44 rooms on each floor, and a heavy, impenetrable door, which is the only material memory of the building today (it can be seen in the Ethnographic Museum). The impressive building fits perfectly into the cityscape - along Commerce Street, central to the city since forever and a continuation to the bridge, next to other inns, baths, mosques and a stone's throw from the other impressive building - Bezistena.
In the summer of 1909, the Plovdiv government discussed the idea of old Kursum Khan to be adapted for city halls. A special committee inspected the massive stone building, the large courtyard, numerous warehouses, shops and offices. The complete shooting, carefully made by architect Yosif Schnitter, has given the opportunity to future designers to consider a complete restoration of the monument. In 1911, a remodeling contest was announced, which attracted the best Bulgarian architects, since for the first time they could try something completely different. Most unexpectedly, the jury chose the project of the young architect Stefan Dzhakov. He envisaged that the halls would be developed in the inner courtyard of the old building and that the sturdy metal columns would support a glazed roof. The khan itself had to be cleared of various outbuildings and returned to its original appearance from the fifteenth century.
During this time, however, there was an unannounced war. Kursum Khan was the most precious place in Plovdiv, in the most commercial part of the city. Some 80 people owned the building, who in no case wanted to part with their property. The richest families in Plovdiv were affected. A whole bunch of lawyers rushed to help. In 1914, Denyo Manev, famous for his dirty deals, became mayor of the city. He gave up the khan, the finished project, ordering a new project elsewhere. In 1927, the first large-scale announcement of “old” real estate in Plovdiv took place. A number of houses in the Old Town have been declared as such - among them the Nedkovich House, the Lamartin House, the Kuyumdzhieva House, the Yellow School, and the St. St. St. Constantine and Helena Church, St. Marina Church, but also the Dzhumaya Mosque, the Imaret Mosque, and Kurshum Khan Sometime around this time (1927) an inspection of the building was made. Many cracks, demolished sites, precarious props, etc. were discovered, which testified to the unreinforced structure and probably foreshadowed what happened during the April 1928 earthquake.
After that, the inn really remained in an extremely difficult condition, which allowed the townships to take a cunning move. They hired experts to do the expertise - was it possible to keep the khan, but with the explicit addition - by being redeveloped into commercial city halls. As expected, the architects came out with the opinion that the building could not be converted into halls.
The fate of Kurshum Khan was decided at a meeting of the Plovdiv City Council on July 15, 1929. It had one single point: what to do with the most expensive property in the city.
A number of artists, historians and writers stood for the antiquity and were firmly against its demolition. The political class, however, didn’t listen to their words. The decision to demolish the building was made during Mayor Enyu Manolov, and his successor, Bozhidar Zdravkov, was the one at whose time the construction of the city hall began.