Great Mosques of Istanbul

Istanbul is famous for its Mosques. As the capital of the Ottoman Empire since 1453 and the largest city in Turkey, Istanbul is home to over 3000 mosques. Here are 4 of the most important mosques to see in a day Tour with us, based on their architectural character and historical context. 

 

-Sultanahmet (The Blue Mosque)

This 17th century mosque, facing Hagia Sophia, is famous for its beautiful blue tile work ornamenting its interior walls.  Its six slim minarets distinguish it from other mosques, which normally have two or four minarets.

It was built from 1609 to 1616, during the rule of Ahmed I. Like many other mosques, it also houses the tomb of the founder, a madrasah and a hospice. While still used as a mosque, Sultanahmet is one of the most popular, and important, tourist attractions in Istanbul.

Sultanahmet is considered to be the last great mosque of the Ottoman classical period, as it is the culmination of two centuries of both Ottoman mosque and Byzantine church development. It incorporates some Byzantine elements of Hagia Sophia along with traditional Islamic architecture.

-Suleymaniye Mosque (The Magnificent)

The Süleymaniye Mosque is the second largest mosque in the city, and one of the best-known sights of Istanbul.

This outstanding mosque was built in the 16th century by the famous Ottoman architect Mimar Sinan for Sultan Süleyman the Magnificient.  It combines tall, slender minarets (typical of Ottoman architecture) with large domed buildings supported by half domes in the style of the Byzantine church Hagia Sophia (which the Ottomans converted into the mosque of Aya Sofya).

The design also plays on Süleyman’s ‘second Solomon’ ego, as it references the Dome of the Rock, which was built on the site of the Temple of Solomon. The courtyard is of exceptional grandeur with a colonnaded peristyle.

The tombs of the Sultan, his wife Hürrem, and Mimar Sinan are found within its compounds. It is the largest mosque in Istanbul with four minarets (but not the largest overall). 

-Eyup Sultan Mosque

Being the first mosque built after the conquest of Istanbul, the great Mosque of Eyüp lies outside the city walls in Eyüp district. It is located near the Golden Horn, at the supposed place where Eyüp, the standard bearer of the Prophet Muhammed, died in the Islamic assault on Constantinople in 670. Abu Ayyub al-Ansari, who hosted the Prophet Muhammad in his house when he moved from Mecca to Medina, is supposed to be entombed in it. Even though today this mosque has gained significant importance and is considered as the second place of pilgrimage for Muslims after Mecca, it does not serve as a real pilgrimage place in Islam.

-Fatih Mosque

The Fatih Mosque is an Ottoman imperial mosque located in the Fatih district of Istanbul, Turkey. It was one of the largest examples of Turkish-Islamic architecture in Istanbul and represented an important stage in the development of classic Turkish architecture. It is named after Fatih Sultan Mehmed, the Ottoman sultan who captured Constantinople in 1453.

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